BlueDevilThe Kenmore West Blue Devils came off to a slow start in 2014 but came back and were in it until the very end. The Blue Devils won the Class AA North Division Title, made it to the semifinals and finished with a record of 5-4.

The Blue Devils had a strong campaign with a junior lead squad in 2014. After losing the first two games of the season against Williamsville South and Orchard Park, Ken-West ran their league schedule and won the Class AA North Title. Kenmore West won their quarter-final game against Lancaster, and stayed with Orchard Park in the semi-finals until the very end. West has been to 7 semifinal games the past in 10 years but has not been able to get over the hump. “It’s been a tough pill to swallow” says Head Coach Rich Harris. But Coach believes that will make his team hungrier in 2015, “to build off of it we have a lot of seniors coming back, those guys walked off the field with a very bitter feeling…they’ve work hard all year to redeem themselves”.

In 2015, Kenmore West returns 8 starters on both sides of the ball lead by Utility man, 4-year Varsity Starter, and sought after Division I recruit Terrell Ford. As a junior, Ford had almost 2,000 all-purpose yards for the Blue Devils which earned him numerous awards and recognitions including being a Connolly Cup Finalist. But Ford isn’t the only one who can make plays for Ken-West. Blue Devil Quarterback DeAngelo Walker-Johnson had to have minor knee surgery last August and did not play until week 3 of the 2014 season, but he still managed to throw for 567 yards and run for 358 yards. Jamir Lynch stepped in as a sophomore for Walker-Johnson at the QB spot to begin the season. Lynch had 414 yards in the air and 166 on the ground, he takes over at Wide Receiver for his junior year, “Great receiver…very fast, runs great patterns, has very good hands”, Harris says. Ken-West’s second 4-year Varsity Starter is the hard-hitting 200+ pound Jayson Taylor who plays fullback and linebacker. Taylor had 61 tackles in 2014. Taylor is just apart of the 4-man strong Linebacker core that returns. The core is led by Charlie Milks who had 90 tackles last year and now holds the School single-season sack record. Senior Mark Taylor will be a key contributor at Wide Receiver and Defensive Back this year for West. The Blue Devils have the trenches covered as well with 4 of last year’s starting offensive lineman and 3 of last year’s starting defensive lineman returning.

Kenmore West was heavily favored to beat rival Kenmore East last season, but the Bulldogs upset the Blue Devils and shocked WNY. “We had come off two big victories…one to Williamsville North for the (Division) title, a team that had gone to the state finals, and then we came back home and throttled Niagara Wheatfield, I think both of those things allowed for a huge let down” said Harris about his team heading into that game. However, he believes it wasn’t the Blue Devils who lost the game but East who won it, “I give Kenmore East a lot of credit, they played hard in that football game, that team showed a lot of guts, a lot of heart in that football game”. Harris believes that the tough loss not only helped the Blue Devils in 2014 but the lessons learned from that game will be carried over to 2015, “The good thing that’s gonna come out of that game for us is that this team knows now that on any given day they can be knocked off”.

Coach Harris believes that 2015 can be the year that Kenmore West finally gets over the hump of the semifinal game. “At a minimum win the AA North that’s goal number 1, goal number 2 is to finally get over that hurdle win that semi-final and get on the floor of Ralph Wilson Stadium” says Coach Harris. The Head Coach says this team will go down in history, “31 years I’ve been here this is definitely some of the most talent I’ve had at skilled positions.”

Kenmore West, just as they finished the 2014 season, will begin the 2015 season with the Quakers. “The guys are very excited to redeem themselves”, Coach Harris says about starting off with Orchard Park. Coach Harris believes that it’s exactly what his players need, “(Orchard Park) couldn’t have been a more fitting team for them”. In week 3 Sweet Home comes to Crosby Field for what is likely to be a fun shootout with great athletes on both sides. “It gives us a real opportunity to make a name for ourselves in WNY” according to Coach Harris.

The Kenmore West Varsity Football Blue Devils will go just a few blocks over to St. Joe’s to scrimmage the Marauders at 9 AM for Scrimmage Saturday this weekend. The season kicks off on September 4th at 7 PM for the Blue Devils as they will head to down to Orchard Park to face the Quakers.

 

Justin Verlander has had a noticeably rough August for the Detroit Tigers. He proved everyone wrong with his 1-hit complete game shutout masterpiece on Wednesday night. Verlander coming into the game had an 0-3 record with an ERA of 2.00 in the month of August before his start at Comerica Park against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Verlander carried his 6th career no-hit bid after six innings in the last 5 seasons, but couldn’t muster his third career no-hitter. His last no-hitter came against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, 2011 in Toronto.

Going into the 9th inning, Verlander had allowed only two walks, as he also fanned eight batters. Angels catcher Chris Iannetta ripped a 2-2 fastball down the left field line, which picked up chalk from the baseline, for a double to eliminate Verlander’s potential of a no-hitter.

The 32-year old right-handed pitcher by way of Manakin-Sabot, VA., only allowed the double to Iannetta, while walking two, and striking out nine Angels batters.

Verlander has not been his usual self this season, as he now holds a 2-6 record with a 3.45 ERA. His complete game one-hit shutout tonight, this makes his first complete game since July 31, 2012 at Boston. It’s his first complete game shutout since he blanked the Pirates, 2 months prior to his previous complete game, on May 18.

This win against also marks his first victory against the Angels since July 31, 2011 in Detroit. In that game, Verlander went 8 innings, also allowing one hit, two runs (none of them earned), walking two and striking out nine. Most of those numbers sound quite familiar…

Detroit will play one more game against the Angels in their series at Comerica Park before they travel to Toronto to face the 1st place Blue Jays in a three-game series at Rogers Centre. Verlander will pitch on six days rest, as his next projected start will be on Tuesday, September 1st, when the Tigers will play the Kansas City Royals at Kauffmann Stadium

– @mhaim1934

When we think about the history of the NFC North, individual teams have been on top of the division, for decades at a time.

  • In the 1960’s the Green Bay Packers dominated. Under Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr the Packers won Super Bowl I and II in 1966 and 1967.
  • In the 1970’s the Minnesota Vikings took were the cream of the crop. From 1968 to 1980 The Vikings won the Division 10 times. Led by Fran Tarkenton and the Purple People Eaters, Minnesota appeared in four Super Bowls (1969, 1973,1974 and 1976)
  • Under Mike Ditka, Jim McMahon and Walter Payton, the Chicago Bears Won the Super Bowl in 1985. Chicago had one of the most dominating defenses in the history of the NFL that year. Many historians feel that the Bears underachieved, by only winning one Super Bowl ring.
  • Since 1995 the Packers have won 11 Division titles including 4 in a row (2011, 2012, 2113 and 2014).
  • The only team that has never had long term success in this division has been the Detroit Lions. They have only won 2 division titles, 1991 &1993. They are also the only team from the NFC North to not make a Super Bowl appearance.

The NFC North has a plethora of talented players on each roster. There has been big changes with a lot of teams and subtle changes within the organizations. Below is my NFC North Preview. 

Green Bay Packers (Last season 12-4… This year… 12-4)

The Green Bay Packers have been one of the premier franchises in the history of the NFL. Even though they are in a small market, the Packers have had constant success. The average NFL team has 16 free agents on their roster, The Packers have averaged 3. This is an amazing stat because it shows that when the Packers draft someone, they stay on their team for most of their career. They rarely replace a player with a free agent. They replace them with the draft. They build the organization the right way, from the bottom up.

Last season, the Packers, with an injured quarterback made it to the NFC Championship game. They were up 16-0 at halftime before their coaching staff went into a conservative shell. They lost to Seattle in overtime, 28-22 and now Mike McCarthy will no longer be calling the plays on offense. I think this is a good move on his part. Let the head coach manage the game and let his coordinators do their jobs.

Green Bay lost their star wide receiver, Jordy Nelson, to a knee injury in pre-season. This is a huge loss for the Packers. In 2014 Nelson was one of the NFL’s best offensive players.

98 receptions (Ranked 7th)

1,519 receiving yards (Ranked 4th)

13 receiving touchdowns (Ranked 2nd)

If you are a Packers fan this injury is a huge negative. On the positive side, if there is one quarterback who can make up for a lost wide receiver, its last year’s reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers. Running back Eddie Lacy (1,139 rushing yards) and wide receiver Randall Cobb (91 receptions) will be asked to carry even more of a load with Nelson out.

The Packers don’t have an elite defensive but in today’s NFL you just have to be good situationally. Green Bay should be able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks with LB Clay Mathews and DL Julius Peppers. In the secondary, rookies Quinton Rollins and Demarious Randall figure to see playing time after the Packers lost two starters in Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should still be solid as the Packers safety.

This is a team that can contend for a Super Bowl. As long as Rodgers is running the offense they are dangerous. The Packers were 8-0 at home last year and I expect them to win this division by at least two games. Don’t be surprised if Randy Moss or Reggie Wayne, wind up playing for the Packers.

Minnesota Vikings (Last season 7-9… This season 10-6)

After losing Adrian Peterson last season, the Vikings should have imploded. They lost the most dominant running back in the league and had an unproven rookie quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings didn’t, the Finished 7-9 and Bridgewater proved to be a great late round draft pick. Bridgewater started 12 times (had a 6-6) record and completed 64.4% of his passes. That 64.4 completion percentage was the third highest for any rookie in the history of the NFL.

The Offensive line had major issues last year, they gave up 41 sacks. The addition of WR Mike Wallace and former Pro Bowl MVP, TE Kyle Anderson, will be a great safety valve for Bridgewater. Tom Brady is going to come back after his suspension and play angry and with a mission. I fully expect Peterson to do the same. He already has a reputation to run with an attitude. Peterson should get at least 1,800 yards this season.

The Vikings got younger on defense. They weren’t great last year, but not terrible. The ranked in the top 15 in almost every category without a legitimate superstar. The Vikings drafted all areas that they needed to improve. They got secondary help with Trae Waynes, LB help with Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter should help the defensive line.

I like Bridgewater’s maturity and the additions on offense. Defenses are going to try and test that offensive line early on. I fully expect the Vikings to contend for a wildcard spot. They will play meaningful games in December. This is a franchise this is trending upward.

The Detroit Lions (Last season 11-5… this season 9-7)

When the Lions hired Jim Caldwell last season I thought it was a horrible decision. As the head coach of Wake Forrest, Caldwell had a record of 26-63. He went 1-7 in the conference 4 times and his best conference record was 3-5. Caldwell took over a talented Colts team. In his first season, Indianapolis lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl. He was 14-2, 10-6, and 2-14 before he was fired. The Lions were 11-5 last season, and that is the best Caldwell will do. His teams erode over time and he will be exposed game by game year after year.

Quarterback Mathew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson continue to lead the Lions on offense. I think both are trending downward. Johnson had some injuries last year, he missed 3 games and his production was the lowest since 2009. Stafford continues to be that second tier quarterback. Can you win with him? Yes… But does anyone trust him to win a playoff game if needed?

Ndamukong Suh left via free agency for the Miami Dolphins. Suh, is the best run stopper, pass rusher combo lineman in the league. He demands double teams and makes the job of the other defensive lineman a lot easier because they get one on one match ups. Suh will be replaced by former Raven Haloti Ngata. He should help fill the void but the Lions defense will take a step back. The Lions will be looking for rookie TE Eric Ebron and rookie RB Ameer Abdullah to contribute early and often.

As long as Caldwell is running the sidelines Detroit will never be a legitimate contender. They peaked last season and they will take a step back in 2015.

Chicago Bears (Last season…5-11… This season 5-11)

Quarterback Jay Cutler signed a 7 year, $126M contract in 2014. $54M is guaranteed but I would be shocked if Cutler was still in Bears uniform in 2021. The Bears have a lot of problems on both sides of the ball but Cutler’s contract is an albatross that is sinking the Chicago football team. Cutler appears to be ambivalent at times and his nonchalant attitude does not inspire confidence with Bears fans.

Over the past few years the Bears have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL. They have been at the bottom of the league in points per game, yards given up and 3rd down conversions. Jared Allen and Antrel Rolle should add a veteran leadership but they are both in their 30’s and are not in the prime of their careers.

Chicago lost WR Brandon Marshall to the Jets. For the Bears to be effective, new offensive coordinator Adam Gase, must utilize versatile RB Matt Forte. In order for Cutler to have success they will need to establish a running game. Forte fits the mold and can be a dual threat out of the backfield.

There are too many holes and not enough talent on this roster. As long as Cutler is under center this team will never have long term success. Bears repeat last year’s record and miss the playoffs again.

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monteMonte Perez

@Montetjwitter11

fromthe300level.com

The New York Mets currently have a very high chance of winning their first National League East crown in 9 years. 5 games up on 2nd place Washington as of 8/24, the Mets are playing very consistently. And, with the return of their All-Star Captain David Wright, the team’s chances are suddenly looking very very good.

Wright’s return couldn’t have come a better time for the Mets. Back in May, the third baseman’s future in the MLB was looking highly improbable when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis after he had been experiencing back pain. However, Wright refused to be sidelined by the condition and his health improved enough to allow his return, and he did so with a bang.

On Monday, Terry Collins inserted Wright into a Mets’ lineup for the first time since April 14. In his first at-bat, Wright rewarded his Manager with a skyscraping home run to the second deck of Citizen’s Bank Park. The rest of the Amazin’s were evidently fired up by the captain’s display, as the team hit 8 homers and scored 14 un-answered runs in a comeback rout of the Phillies.

The one question mark surrounding the Mets’ in regard to their postseason chances is their offense. The team has gotten terrific all-around production from its entire lineup, but hasn’t had a real standout all year. Their pitching has been excellent, sophomore Jacob deGrom is tied for second in the NL with a 2.29 ERA, and Matt Harvey is in 7th with a 2.57. Although rookie Noah Syndergaard has been shaky on the road, he’s been a force to be reckoned with at Citi Field. 42-year-old Bartolo Colon has also been getting the job done despite his age. The team’s lack of a super-threat in the batter’s box has been the one uncertainty.

Lately however, the team’s offense has been sizzling. Over their last 5 games dating back to 8/19, the Mets have scored 53 runs. Daniel Murphy is batting .368 with 16 RBI over his last 15 games. Deadline acquisition Yoenis Cespedes has gelled magnificently since coming to Queens, hitting 18 RBI since his arrival (including 7 with 3 homers in a blowout of Colorado). Wright returning now when the team’s bats are hot as ever can only make the Mets more formidable.

The Metropolitans haven’t appeared in the postseason since 2006, their last NL East championship. They were defeated in the NLCS by eventual World Champion St. Louis in 7 games. This year could be very well be their return to October.

morrisMatt Morris

@Flat_Manigen74

fromthe300level.com

 

Entering his first year as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Rex Ryan is faced with a tough decision; who is going to be under center when the Bills open their 2015 season on September 13th , at the Ralph against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts? Is it going to be Matt Cassel? Or what about Tyrod Taylor? EJ Manuel? Who knows because Rex has not given any answers other than he doesn’t plan to name a starter until week 1. So, who is it going to be?       

        Matt Cassel

The Buffalo Bills acquired the former 2005 5th round pick (University of Southern California/ New England Patriots) from the Minnesota Vikings on March 4th in exchange for a pair of draft picks. Cassel is entering his 11th season in the NFL playing for his 4th team. Not everyone can say that they started their career behind and learned from Tom Brady. During the 2008 season Cassel made a name for himself, taking over the starring role when Brady went down with a torn ACL in the first quarter of the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Cassel went on to finish the season going 10-5, completing 327 passes on 516 attempts, throwing for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also added 270 yards on the ground with 2 rushing scores. After the 2008 season, Cassel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs where he played his next four seasons, winning 19 games while losing 28 games. In his 4 seasons with the Chiefs, Cassel threw for 9,549 yards, 59 touchdowns (throwing a career high 27 in 2010) and 44 interceptions.

Cassel spent the last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings after signing with the team as a free agent in 2013. During his short time in Minnesota, Cassel only played in 12 games starting in 9 of them. He went 4-5, throwing for 2,232 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cassel comes to the Buffalo Bills looking for a new start and looking to bring back the 2008 Cassel. During training camp, Cassel has shown signs of hope according to Rex Ryan leading to him being named the starter for the preseason opener against the Panthers. Cassel went 7-of-8 with 45 yards on 2 drives. Cassel continued to receive 1st team reps during training camp but did not play in the second preseason game. With 2 games remaining until the Bills kick off their regular season, Cassel is still fighting to show why he deserves the starting role.

https://youtu.be/7cfE5FCqaBM

Tyrod Taylor

Another first year Bill is in the running for the starting position and he goes by the name of Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is entering his 5th season in the NFL after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Taylor hasn’t started a regular season game in his NFL career simply for the fact that he was backing up Joe Flacco. In the 14 games he has appeared, Taylor has thrown for 199 yards with 2 interceptions and rushed for 136 yards with 1 rushing touchdown. Taylor is ready to take the next step and become a starter in the NFL to prove what he can do. Taylor took over for Matt Cassel in the first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers after two drives. In the game Taylor went 5-of-8 with 49 yards and ran for 47 yards on 6 rushes including a 21 yard run. Taylor went on to start the second preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, in a game which he went 7-of10 for 65 yards and ran for 41 yards on 4 rushes. Taylor has impressed the coaches throughout training camp and the preseason thus far. Fans are also following along with the Tyrod sensation. Taylor gives something the Bills have never had, a dual-threat QB being able to pass and run. Is Tyrod Taylor the Bills next starting QB?

https://youtu.be/iZ4Lnt9-C4A

        EJ Manuel

The Buffalo Bills traded down in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft to select the man they believed would be their guy at QB. EJ Manuel was the taken 16th overall out of Florida State to take over the starting position that was previously held by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Manuel had an up and down rookie season posting a 4-6 record in 10 games played, missing 6 games because of injuries. Manuel threw for 1,972 yards with 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions as a rookie. Despite being inconsistent,

former head coach Doug Marone named Manuel the starter for the 2014 season. Manuel would be benched in week 5 for Kyle Orton after posting a 2-2 record. Orton would go on to lead the Bills to a 7-5 record, giving the Bills their first winning record since 2004. In the 4 games that EJ started during the season, he threw for 838 yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions picking up wins against the Chicago Bears in the season opener and the Miami Dolphins in week 2 before losing 2 straight. Manuel is looking to prove to the front office that he was not a waste of a draft pick and there is no better time than now to do it. Manuel is entering the 3rd year of his 4 year rookie deal and if he does not show any hope that he is the quarterback that the Bills have been longing for, Doug Whaley will not waste any time on sending him packing after the season ends. Just like the other 2 quarterbacks Manuel is competing with, he his making his claim for why he should reclaim the starting role. In the 2 preseason games thus far, EJ has gone 4-of-8 for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers and 9-of-14 for 111 yards and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. His lone touchdown of the game came in the final seconds of the game and proved to be the game winner. Look for EJ to start the Bills 3rd preseason game at home this Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

https://youtu.be/VBDqyq_6Oc0

So BillsMafia who is it going to be? Who’s going to be the one that steps up to hopefully take the Bills back to the playoffs? EJ? Cassel? Tyrod? You tell us.

Ryan Dickman

@ryandickman

fromthe300level.com

East_Logo_gold_3The Kenmore East Bulldogs Varsity Boys Soccer team got off to a great start in 2014 but ended up losing in the second round of the playoffs to eventual Section VI Class A Champs Williamsville South by a score of 5-1, giving them an overall record of 7-10-1.

The Bulldogs had an experienced core with 10 seniors on the squad.  Forward Fenesse Henry hopes that the young guys on the team were able to learn from them. “(Last Season) was a learning experience for all of us, it was an end to era, a lot of seniors had to go and we brought in some fresh talent”.

Fenesse Henry had a fantastic year as a junior, he lead the Dogs in scoring with 12 goals and 5 assists, earning him All-NFL 1st team. The now senior forward was pleased with the honors but expects more from himself this season. Fellow Senior Gage Holler, who got All-NFL 3rd team, said “it’s more about winning games then me getting honors”. Junior Dylan Guarino immediately got the job between the pipes last year after transferring to Kenmore East for his sophomore year thanks to his play with Empire United. As the season played out, Guarino certainly proved he earned that nod with a 2.2 GAA and 4 shutouts for the Dogs. Like his teammates he has high expectations for himself too, “One of my goals I have with (Coach) is to break the shutout record at East”. Young Star Kyle Hofschneider also comes back this year. He played on the Varsity last year as an 8th grader picking up 5 assists, Kenmore East will expect more from him this year.

As for the West game the Dogs won’t do anything special for the Blue Devils. “They’re just like any other games” says Henry. Guarino knows that people really care about the West game but its not worth much more than any other game, “There’s always a lot of of hype going into it…but besides that its just a normal league game”. However, Holler says that he’s always excited when the crosstown rivals meet, “It’s always more exciting to play them, you wanna come out and play a lot harder…it’s gonna be a physical game”.

Kenmore East has high hopes for 2015. Fenesse Henry not only has great expectations for himself but his team too, “We wanna be at the top of the league (NFL)…then become Sectional Champions and make a run at States”. Guarino wants a strong regular season that will give the Bulldogs a good chance to make a run in the playoffs. Gage Holler made it clear that Sectionals are a must for Ken-East, “I think at the very least a Sectional title is what we are going for, nothing less than that”.

The Kenmore East Varsity Boys Soccer team will begin their season this weekend at the Coaches V Cancer ECIC/NFL Challenge at Niagara Falls High School. On Friday they will play the Frontier Falcons at 2 PM and on Saturday they will go up against the Sweet Home Panthers at 4 PM. The Dogs will host Niagara Falls to open up their league schedule on September 3rd.

 

BlueDevilThe Kenmore West Blue Devils Varsity Boys Soccer team had a nice 2014 Campaign, but unfortunately weren’t able to end it on a high note. The Blue Devils defeated Niagara Falls 1-0 in the pre-quarterfinals of the Section VI Class AA tournament, but lost to eventual Section VI Champ Orchard Park 4-1 in the quarterfinal matchup.

Coach Marquardt thinks the final game of 2014 can be a springboard into the 2015 season, “I think it paralleled to our season, we kind of underachieved and we realized we can play with these better teams…I think what the team can take away from that is that they’re as good as anybody”.

The 2015 Blue Devils will have a very experienced squad that includes 3rd year Varsity Players and 2nd year Captains Kole Marquardt and Sam Jung. Seniors Nathan Fisk, Robert Kirisits and goalie Cory Sikora also return with major Varsity playing time under their belts.

To begin the season Kenmore West will compete in the annual Coaches V Cancer ECIC/NFL Challenge at Niagara Falls High School this weekend. The ECIC teams have showed up the NFL the past few years at the event, so the NFL teams, including Ken-West, will have a lot to prove.

Coach Marquardt welcomes the competition, “We have two very difficult teams to face with loads of talent…so right off the bat we’re gonna face somebody competitive instead of just rolling over somebody”.

Although many aren’t giving Kenmore East much of a thought, the coach is certainly not over looking the Bulldogs, “They’re kinda scary to me, they have a strong backbone right up the middle.” He also pointed out that “when its a cross town rival, the comparisons get thrown out the window”. “It’s never a blowout, it’s always close”, captain Kole Marquart said when asked about the East game.

As what the players want from the season, Sam Jung says “I wanna see us go to Sectionals, I think if we play to our best we can definitely do that”. Nathan Fisk agreed and added that he wanted to beat East twice. Kole Marquardt said ” ’06 was our last Sectional title, so another title to bring home to West would be pretty cool!”.

The Kenmore West Varsity Boys Soccer team will begin their season against West Seneca West on Friday at 10 AM and will play Williamsville South on Saturday at Noon as they part take in the Coaches V Cancer ECIC/NFL Challenge at Niagara Falls High School. The Devils will open league play at Lew-Port on September 3rd.

sjci hockeyAfter a disappointing end to the 2014-15 season the St. Joe’s federation hockey team is looking for redemption in this upcoming campaign. The Marauders worked their way to a regular season record of 13- 1 – 1 beating St. Francis 8-0 in the semi-finals of their first playoff game, Joe’s lost the Manhattan cup final to rival Canisius 2-1 with the only Marauder goal coming with under five seconds remaining in the third period. This defeat was devastating to those seniors who were unable to fight for another Manhattan cup or a state Championship.

With the fast approaching 2015-16 season the Marauders are hoping to use last year’s disappointment as motivation for what will be another long season. With eight players returning on a roster of 23 players (21 skaters, 2 goalies) the program is looking for veteran leadership to help guide underclassmen with little or no federation experience.

joes 3

Nick Wahler

The two players expected to step into leadership roles are St. Joe’s senior defensemen Auggie Cudeck and Nicholas Wahler, both have played organized hockey together since the age of five. Cudeck as well as Wahler expressed they have high hopes for the upcoming season and hope to complete what they see as unfinished business not only for their own benefit but for the seniors who were unable to accomplish their goal last season. Cudeck going into his third year as a Joe’s D-man credits former teammates and captains Paul Lovullo, John Schmitt, Justin Crawford and Anthony Pontello also known as Ponch for helping him through the beginning of his federation career and setting a good example as leaders.

joes 1

Auggie Cudeck

Although well-equipped these two players will not be alone in their efforts to be good leaders. Both Griffin Lovullo and Jack Attea are capable of being leaders on the team, like Cudeck both are going into their third year playing federation hockey for Joe’s. With hard work Auggie and Nick hope to follow in past leaders footsteps through the use of their own style of leadership and with strategies they have learned from some of the former players stated above. It is clear the message by the coaching staff and leaders of what will be a mainly new roster is a high work ethic in which Cudeck told me St. Joe’s Coach Richard Crozier referrers to it as “our bread and butter”. When asked about their personal goals for the season both Cudeck and Whaler told me the only things that are important to them are being good leaders, pushing their teammates to compete at a high level and winning a state championship.

Being in there final season of high school hockey both Cudeck and Wahler see this as a make or break year for them, Wahler is still looking for his first federation state championship while Cudeck won a championship with Joe’s in the 2013-14 season. Finally I asked these new leaders why playing for St. Joe’s and federation hockey was so special even though there are several different options for high school players in Western New York. Both made the point that the family feel in the locker room is overwhelming making memories they will never forget, Cudeck also added there is nothing better than playing in front of his classmates known as the Rowdies who show up in force for major rivalry games such as Williamsville North and Canisius.

The man who has the task of selecting this new roster is Head Coach and hockey program director Richard Crozier who has been in these positions since 2008. The program consists of 8 different teams that are comprised of one freshman, three JV and four varsity teams including federation. On average over 150 students try out for the hockey program each and every one of those are able to play on a team. Typically several players make the big leap from the very talented Varsity A and J.V. Maroon teams to the Federation squad. It is clear the coaching staffs is confident in their newly found leaders and have high expectations for the team this upcoming season.

veltri2Patrick Veltri

@zoomerpat17

fromthe300level.com

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison got the start at Coca-Cola Field on Sunday afternoon with the Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons in front of a crowd of 10,380.

Hutchison, 25, leads the MLB with a run support of 7.8 runs per 9 innings, but he didn’t get any help from the Bisons in his 4 innings of work. He was credited with the loss, as the Herd dropped their second straight game to the Syracuse Chiefs, 3-0.

Hutchison pitched 4 innings, using 71 pitches (43 for strikes), allowing three hits, two runs, walking three batters and striking out four. He also added a balk and a home run allowed to his scoring line.

“I thought I was a little rusty in the beginning”, Hutchison said about his performance. “Towards the end I started to feel good.”

Hutchison allowed a home run to Syracuse’s second batter of the game, Matt den Dekker. Later on, Caleb Ramsey hit a triple to lead-off the 2nd inning. After the triple, Hutchison got into a groove, facing only one batter over the minimum.

“I thought I made some good pitches after that,” Hutchison said about his performance after the triple. “I thought the last inning was the best inning I had.”

He holds a 12-2 record with an ERA of 5.06 in 24 starts with Toronto before his demotion to the Bisons on August 18th.

“It’s never a great feeling,” Hutchison said about coming down to Buffalo. “I need to continue to do what I need to do and be prepared to pitch.”

Hutchison will not make another start with the Bisons as he will be scheduled to pitch on Saturday afternoon vs. the Detroit Tigers in Toronto.


Syracuse starting pitcher Paolo Espino really limited the Bisons offense as the Bisons only mustered one hit off of Espino. He went 7 innings, walked 2, struck out 3, and also hit a batter.

Espino set season-low in hits allowed with one (previous high: 4, last occurring on May 30th, at Durham). He also tied a season-low with earned runs allowed with 0, last set on August 6th at Pawtucket.

He also took a no-hitter into the 5th inning, but Bisons RF Ty Kelly led off the inning with a single down the right field line. Kelly’s hit was the first of two by the Bisons in the entire game.

Syracuse’s den Dekker and Ramsey combined for 6 of Syracuse’s 9 hits. Both Ramsey and den Dekker went 3-for-4, while Ramsey was a home run shy of the cycle.


With the Bisons shutout loss to Syracuse today, this marks the 17th shutout, a new team record for the Bisons. The Bisons will go on the road to Allentown, Pennsylvania to face the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Left-hander Jeff Francis (5-2, 2.14 ERA) will get the ball for the Bisons, while Sean O’Sullivan (2-2, 3.86 ERA) will go on the bump for the IronPigs. First pitch will be scheduled for 7:05pm.

Follow us on Twitter for updates from today’s game: @from300level

-@mhaim1934

Last time we looked at the American League Pennant chase, today we’ll do the National League side.

East:

The National League’s Surprise of the Year, the New York Mets, currently lead the NL East by 5 games over the slumping Nationals. Led by the brilliant sophomore showing of Jacob deGrom (1.98 ERA, .196 BAA), and the solid seasons of Matt Harvey and the ageless wonder Bartolo Colon, the Mets are playing better than they have in years and could be a contender if they can hold Washington off.

A once promising season may slip away for the Nationals if they don’t wake up. The team has leaned too heavily on Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer this season and it’s becoming obvious that the two All-Stars are running out of gas. Their Wild Card chances aren’t great but they still do have a shot at the Eastern Crown if they can get going again. Atlanta, Miami, and Philadelphia are far out of first and have slim chances at comebacks. The NL East could be a runaway for New York.

Central:

St. Louis has been the National League’s most consistent team in 2015. Mike Matheny’s Cardinals are 77-45 as of August 23 and lead the Pirates in the Central race by 4 games. Even without ace Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals have played exceptionally well, led by Matt Carpenter and young blood Carlos Martinez (2.85 ERA).

Chicago is only 3 back of the Pirates (both currently hold the two Wild Card spots). Both could possibly sneak up and spoil the Cardinals’ hopes.  Milwaukee and Cincinnati are both 25 games back of first in the Central. Need I say more?

West:

The NL West is currently the NL’s closest division. Colorado brings up the rear and is 17.5 games back of first. Other than that, the division is very tight. Los Angeles leads by 1.5 over defending champion San Francisco. Despite comparatively poor seasons from Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers are still competitive thanks in large part to Zack Greinke (1.67 ERA) and Adrian Gonzalez (73 RBI, 24 HRs). Arizona is 6 back, and San Diego is by only half a game more.

The Diamondbacks honestly don’t present much of a threat because their only offensive asset is MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. The Padres have all the tools needed for a deep postseason run, but have been surprisingly inconsistent all season long and haven’t been able to shift out of first gear all year.  The Division will be either LA or Frisco’s.

Wild Card:

As previously stated, both of the National League’s Wild Card spots belong to the Central Division. Pittsburgh holds the top spot and the Cubs are in second. The Giants trail Chicago by 5 and the Nationals and D-Backs do by 9.5. All this considered, signs still  point to the Pirates and Cubs meeting to decide who will be in the NLDS.

Thoughts? Who will win what race in your opinion?

@Flat_Manigen74