Shaggy's Hotbird Huck - Week 1

Welcome to the 2024 season! Our correspondent Shaggy Shragis tells you what to expect from Sunday’s game. Be sure to get your tickets now…if you can’t make it to the game, be sure to watch on

Welcome to the brand new 2024 Hotbird Huck; it’s not the only new version of an old faithful this season. New league name, a new stadium for the Hotbirds, and a new disc will all be on display as  the Philadelphia Phoenix take on the DC Breeze this Sunday at Neumann University in Aston, PA. 

DC is coming off a close loss to the Salt Lake Shred, and are in danger of falling to a perilous 0 - 2. The Phoenix are seeking their first victory over the Breeze since 2017, and a hot(bird) start to the season.

The Breeze did not have a hot start to their season. The 23-20 loss to the Salt Lake Shred featured several uncharacteristic lapses for a Breeze team that is typically considered one of the deepest in the league. They will sorely miss Moussa Dia, Alexandre Fall, David Cranston, and Troy Holland on the defensive side of the frisbee—none of whom are on the 2024 roster—and were missing long time D-line stalwart David Bloodgood for the Utah trip, which led to a dismal 3 for 22 on break opportunities. DC had plenty of opportunities to score on defense, they simply did not have the wherewithal to punch in breaks, likely due to an almost brand new D-line. Add to that the departures of Christian Boxley (my choice for 2024 MVP) and Ben Oort, as well as Jacques Nissen still being at college, and you have a dramatically different, and probably worse, DC team.

Philadelphia brings to the table much more stability this year. Only two players who played in 9 or more games last season are gone: CJ Colicchio and Marc Sands. There have been rumors arising from training camp that several players have taken on different roles entering the 2024 season. It will be interesting to see what lines the Hotbirds come out with to start their season. Needless to say, the roster continuity bodes well in a matchup that has been as close as the Breeze v. Phoenix games in the past few regular seasons.

The Hotbirds have lost the last four regular season matchups with DC by a combined 5 points, several of those losses coming on buzzer beaters by the Breeze to pull ahead in the final seconds. The Breeze are averaging a break every 3 chances in those games, a much better rate than they debuted against Salt Lake. Philadelphia will hope to perpetuate DCs woes on the turn.

From Philly’s standpoint, all they need to do is not be the worst offense in UFA history. To say last season started poorly is an understatement. Through the first three games in 2023, Philadelphia held on less than half their offensive opportunities, meaning that every time the offense got the disc, they were more likely to get scored on then do the actual scoring. During that disastrous stretch, they still played DC to within one point. If they can even play an average game on offense, they have a good shot to win on Sunday.

The easiest way to improve their offensive efficiency is to clean up the bad hucks. The Hotbirds were top 10 last season in huck completion percentage, but were the worst team in the league completing hucks through those first three games. Deep connections might be rocky this season for all of the UFA teams however. DC was just 2-for-11 on huck opportunities in Utah, as troubles with the new disc and difficulties in the altitude proved too much for their very talented throwers to overcome. Through one week, deep disc completion percentage is down across the league, as several clubs struggled to adjust to the new Pro Frisbee’s flight path.

The Hotbird offense should have a better start this season. Center handler Calvin Trisolini has a full year of professional experience under his belt, and should start the season in the neighborhood he finished in: one of the better handlers in the league. A strong connection between him and fellow backfield partner Alex Thorne will smooth over many of the early bumps of 2023. However the offense shakes out, this unit played DC to a one-point game playing the worst possible ultimate, so it should be a fun contest either way! 

It is finally time for Philadelphia to conquer their division rivals, and Sunday will be the first Phoenix victory over DC in 7 years. The Breeze have yet to adjust to their new roster, and the Hotbird offense will come out firing for the Cinco de Mayo matchup. My prediction: Philadelphia 23 - DC 20.