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Susquehanna, Blue Ridge Could Work Together For Football
Football was once the centerpiece of the Susquehanna athletic program.
The school's first-ever winless season, just eight years removed from a run to the state semifinals, has the Sabers ready to ask for help from a rival school district.
Members of Susquehanna's administration and coaching staff are trying to determine if Blue Ridge would be interested in joining a cooperative sponsorship of the football program.
"What we're hoping is that both districts will agree to at least look into a cooperative sponsorship," Susquehanna athletic director and former football coach Dick Bagnall said. "I had talked years ago with (former Blue Ridge athletic director) Jerry Thomson but it didn't really get off the ground.
"Maybe now might be the time."
In a cooperative sponsorship, the team would still be known as the Susquehanna Sabers and compete under the supervision of the Susquehanna Community School District, but the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association would allow Blue Ridge players to compete. The enrollment of both schools would be combined, moving the Sabers up from Class A where they made two straight state playoff appearances under Bagnall in the mid-1990s.
"Both school boards would have to agree to do this, then the procedure to file with the PIAA is pretty cut and dried," Bagnall said.
If all goes well, Bagnall said the move could be made for next fall. He has not yet looked into whether there would be any reaction or adjustment from the Lackawanna Football Conference where the Sabers compete in Division C with the other Class A teams.
Bagnall also said Susquehanna would be interested in allowing players from its school to play for the Blue Ridge soccer team in similar joint sponsorship if Blue Ridge officials are interested.
Communication between the schools is still in the preliminary stage.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna graduate Jeff Rood had an illness spoil his appearance at the NCAA Division II national cross country championships.
Rood, running with the Millersville University team that placed 18th out of 24 teams, was sick the night before and the morning of the championships. He attempted to run the race but had to drop out well before the halfway point.
The last District 2 teams were eliminated Saturday during the state high school football quarterfinals.
Pittston Area was roughed up by unbeaten Strath Haven, 49-17. Strath Haven won the 1999 and 2000 Class AAA state titles before losing in the 2001 state final for its only defeat in the past four seasons.
Mount Carmel, the four-time state champion in Class AA, eliminated Lakeland, 35-12.
Schuylkill Haven, the state's top-ranked Class A team for much of the season, eliminated Lackawanna Trail, 28-20.
I successfully predicted the Mount Carmel and Schuylkill Haven victories, making my record for the final week 2-0 and for the season 91-30 (75.2 percent) on games involving Lackawanna Football Conference teams.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The rotation of a tournament involving the Susquehanna boys' basketball team has led to the beginning of a site rotation for the Tony Aliano Memorial Tournament honoring the late Susquehanna girls' basketball coach.
The Sabers and Lady Sabers each open with tournament games Friday and Saturday.
Susquehanna is hosting a two-year-old Tipoff Tournament involving Athens, Northeast Bradford and Towanda. Athens hosted the event last year but there was an understanding between the schools that the tournament would move each season.
After Towanda and Athens play in the opener, the Sabers meet Northeast Bradford at 8 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Sabers won the first two Aliano Memorials.
"We're the defending champs, we just had to give up the home-court advantage," said Susquehanna coach Rick Mazikewich, who was an assistant under Aliano.
Blue Ridge will play Carbondale in Friday's opener before Susquehanna plays host Lakeland in the second game.
Jennifer Benson, Liz Leber and Maria Reavey are returning starters for the Lady Sabers.
"We have three starters back, but Lakeland should be a strong team," Mazikewich said.
Susquehanna prepared with a scrimmage Saturday against Northeast Bradford.
"We looked a little rusty, but I saw some bright spots," Mazikewich said. "Hopefully we can defend on a foreign court."
Susquehanna graduate Luke Walker was one of the top five runners on the Mansfield University men's cross country team as a sophomore.
Walker wrapped up his season by finishing 120th overall and sixth on the team during the NCAA Division II East Regionals. A week earlier, he was Mansfield's fourth finisher and 93rd overall at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships.
Michael Gamble, a sophomore from Mountain View, was also a member of the team.
TOM J. ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
A Different Racing Game For STEWART Will the next few months be heaven or hell for Tony Stewart?
Stewart is great race car driver, but during the winter months, he won't be doing much racing. Instead, he will be wearing a tuxedo and speaking into a microphone quite often.
Stewart won the NASCAR Winston Cup championship by 38-points over Mark Martin. By his own admission, Stewart says he's glad the season is over. Will he continue to have problems as NASCAR's top-ranking ambassador, or will he be able to adjust and take it all in stride?
Boy, it's a good thing Stewart didn't go for an off track championship, because he would have finished several laps down after each race. That's how bad he was in the garage area.
The Columbus, Indiana native was 43rd in points after the season-opener at Daytona. His Home Depot team led by crew chief, Greg Zippadelli managed to stay focused on the racing aspect in spite of Stewart's mishaps off the track to bring home the big trophy.
Stewart has repeatedly said he loves racing, but hates the P/R part.
"I don't think I am running for a political office," said Stewart. "It's not an elected office. I've not been told of any quote-unquote responsibilities. If everybody is going to make it a lot more complicated I'm going to be pretty disappointed, to be perfectly honest."
I personally don't think he will be all smiles during the winter months, but I do expect him to make it through and add his own unique style to the championship mix.
He will probably be a different sort of champion. One that is not so politically correct. But I don't think he will be the worst champion in NASCAR's history. He will probably have one or two run-ins with photographers or other people, but I think Home Depot officials will see to it that he generally behaves in public.
I don't think we will see as much of him on television talk shows and other media programs as we have of other champions in the past, but don't look for him to embarrass the sport.
I don't think Stewart has reached the level of Dale Earnhardt or Richard Petty, but he has a lot of respect from the other drivers that he races with on Sunday, and that means a whole lot more when it comes to racing than what you and I think of his pushing and shoving.
Stewart's Winston Cup title marked his ninth driving championship in 23 years of racing, beginning with a karting championship at the Columbus (Ind.) Fairgrounds in 1980 at age nine.
Top-10 final unofficial points leaders: 1. Stewart-4800, 2. Martin-4762, 3. Busch-4641, 4. J. Gordon-4607, 5. Johnson-4600, 6. Newman-4593, 7. R. Wallace-4574, 8. Kenseth-4432, 9. Jarrett-4415, 10. Rudd-4323, 11.
WIMMER Is Hottest Busch Driver Scott Wimmer is hotter than a jalapeno pepper in a hot Texas sun. Even though Greg Biffle wrapped up the Busch Series championship before the final race of the season, it was Wimmer that stole the spotlight during the latter part of the season.
Midway into the season, Wimmer's racing future was in doubt. Sponsorship problems surrounding the No. 23 Bill Davis team left everyone wondering what was in store for them.
But then came Dover and Wimmer's team was in victory lane. Two weeks later at Memphis, they had won again. Wimmer wrapped up the season by winning the last two races at Phoenix and Homestead.
He won four out of the last eight races.
"We weren't running too well at the beginning of the season," said Wimmer. " We needed to up and performance, and we did. We worked harder and did the things that needed doing so we could finish better."
Top-10 final Busch Series points leaders: 1. Biffle-4919, 2. Keller-4655, 3. Wimmer-4488, 4. McLaughlin-4253, 5. Sprague-4206, 6. McMurray-4147, 7. K. Wallace-4078, 8. Hamilton Jr.-4058, 9. Compton-4042, 10. Riggs-4023.
BLISS Wins Truck Championship, Will Move To Busch Mike Bliss, who won his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title, announced he would move to the Busch Series next season.
Meanwhile, several truck teams are having problems locating sponsors for the upcoming season. Interest among sponsors to jump on board a truck isn't as keen as it is in Winston Cup and Busch. While it costs just as much to run a truck race, the television ratings are much lower than a Busch race.
Travis Kvapil's team, the No. 60 1-800-Rent Cat is one that won't be around next year. If the team doesn't land a sponsor, then Kvapil will take over Bliss' ride with Xpress Motorsports.
Petty Enterprises is also seeking a sponsor for their truck. The team plans to run Adam Clarke for rookie of the year honors. Clarke, who has run two races, has extensive experience at a number of the tracks as an instructor for Richard Petty's driving school.
Bobby Hamilton's three-truck stable is also in trouble. Hamilton would like to put Ryan Hemphill in one of his trucks, but so far there is no sponsor. Bill Lester, who has driven the No. 8 for the past two years, might not return.
The team has been funded by DaimlerChrysler, but it will not continue unless a major sponsor can be found. There is still no word on whether Robert Pressley will remain in Hamilton's No. 18 truck.
Final top-10 points leaders: 1. Bliss-3359, 2. Crawford-3313, 3. Musgrave-3308, 4. Leffler-3156, 5. Starr-3144, 6. Setzer-3132, 7. Pressley-3097, 8. Cook-3070, 9. Kvapil-3039, 10. Gibbs-3010.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Winston Cup driver had the most wins during 2002?
Answer To Last Week's Question: Winston Cup driver Jimmy Spencer is out of a job at this time.
Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter is a syndicated NASCAR columnist. If you have a racing question that you would like answered send it to The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL, 36616, or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Middletown, PA The Pennsylvania State Data Center at Penn State Harrisburg reports that the 2002 statewide rifle-hunting season for antlered and antlerless deer will take place from December 2 through December 14.
Based on a report issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Census Bureau, over $941 million was spent by hunters 16 years or older on hunting-related expenses in Pennsylvania in 2001. Over $417 million (44.3 percent) was spent on equipment, $189.9 million (20.2 percent) was spent on trip-related expenses and nearly $334 million (35.5 percent) was spent on other hunting-related expenses.
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