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Issue Home December 10, 2002 Site Home

Local Sports Scene
Athlete of the Month

Local Sports Scene
By Tom J. Robinson

Cooperative Football Plan Moving Forward

The first formal hurdle has been cleared allowing Susquehanna Community School District administrators to approach their counterparts at Blue Ridge about the possibility of forming a cooperative sponsorship for football next season.

"The (school) board approved us continuing to investigate the possibility," superintendent William Stracka said of Wednesday's 6-3 vote.

That means Stracka and principal Mike Lisowski can move forward by approaching Blue Ridge officials about the subject. Stracka has spoken with Blue Ridge superintendent Robert McNamara and plans to set up a formal meeting.

"The next step is to inform Blue Ridge that we're interested and see if they are interested," Stracka said. "After that, hopefully, we can try to work out a three-year contract."

Stracka said a three-year commitment, beginning in the fall of 2003, makes the most sense because the PIAA is in the middle of a two-year enrollment cycle. That would give the Sabers one year as a Class A team and two years in Class AA under the new combined enrollment as they assess whether cooperative sponsorship is working.

Cooperative sponsorship of football would allow Blue Ridge students to play on the Susquehanna football team. Susquehanna officials are also interested in extending the offer to other activities, including the possibility of letting Susquehanna athletes play soccer at Blue Ridge.

"Mr. Lisowski did the research," Stracka said. "There are 23 schools in the state co-sponsoring football. He talked to five schools and from their comments, it seemed that it would take a multi-year commitment to judge whether the system is working. You may not get that much interest in the first year."

Stracka said that if his counterparts at Blue Ridge are interested, he would like to see the proposal go to the Blue Ridge School Board soon for similar approval on whether it is OK to formalize a contract.


The school board meeting that included discussion on the football program's future came between two events in the state playoffs that reminded of the status Susquehanna's program once had.

Woodland Hills defeated Altoona, 46-22, Nov. 30 in the state Class AAAA football semifinals.

Chris Morgan carried 26 times for 302 yards and five touchdowns for Woodland Hills in the game.

Morgan became just the second player to have a 300-yard rushing game in state playoff history.

The first? Susquehanna's Jason Reed.

Reed still holds the state playoff rushing record as part of an amazing all-around effort on his part in a game filled with astonishing numbers.

Reed carried 19 times for 334 yards during a 37-35 state Class A quarterfinal victory over Schuylkill Haven Nov. 25, 1994 at Blue Mountain High School.

Reed scored on touchdowns of 82 and 63 yards in the first quarter, 21 yards in the second quarter and 48 yards in the third quarter.

He did so much more. Reed's 29-point effort concluded with a 26-yard field goal with eight seconds left.

Reed's game-winning field goal was set up when he made a tackle for a loss on third down to get the ball back for the Sabers.

During the game, Reed also caught a pass for 20 yards, returned two kickoffs for 42 yards, punted twice for 63 yards, ran for a two-point conversion, was in on five tackles and rushed the passer into two incompletions.

The only other Sabers to carry the ball also ran for more than 100 yards.

Jeremy Stout was 12-for-118 and Jason Soden was 20-for-102 rushing.

Susquehanna ran 51 times for 554 yards and had 633 yards total offense to Schuylkill Haven's 398.

The Sabers fell in the state semifinals that year, 40-20, to Southern Columbia.

Southern Columbia won its first state title the next week, routing Western Beaver, 49-6, in a result that left the Sabers ranked number-two in the state in Class A in the final Harrisburg Patriot-News poll.

The win over the Sabers started Southern Columbia's run as the dominant Class A football program in eastern Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, that dominance also led to disappointment with a six-game state championship losing streak. After winning in 1994, the Tigers returned to the state final all but one year only to lose each time.

That losing streak ended Friday afternoon when Southern Columbia dropped Rochester, 31-6.

Rochester had beaten Southern Columbia in the 1998, 2000 and 2001 state finals.

Mark Wojtowicz led Southern Columbia by hitting 13 of 26 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 17-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.


Montrose jumped on Susquehanna from the start Friday to post its first boys' basketball victory, 59-25.

Both teams came into the game 0-3. The Meteors had started the week by letting a late lead get away in a tough 57-55 loss to Dunmore.

The Montrose girls lost to a strong team in their season debut.

Athens improved to 3-0 when it pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat the Lady Meteors, 49-43.

Coleen Walsh led Montrose with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Erika Brown added 10 points, Chelsey Parvin had six points and 11 rebounds and Kate LaBarbera had five assists.

The Lady Meteors came back to hand Wyalusing its first loss, 29-22, Saturday.

Montrose trailed, 17-15, before outscoring Wyalusing, 14-5, in the fourth quarter.

Brown scored all 13 of her points in the second half to lead Montrose. She had the Lady Meteors' only four points of the third quarter before scoring nine in the fourth.

Walsh added eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Parvin had 10 rebounds while LaBarbera added five assists and five steals.

The other state football championships were won by Mount Carmel (AA), Hopewell (AAA) and Parkland (AAAA).

Mount Carmel has won five state titles, one less than Berwick's state record.


Lackawanna League basketball divisional play gets started this week.

The only matchups between county teams involve Forest City at Susquehanna in girls' basketball Monday and boys' basketball Friday in Division 2 North games.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return from their longest road trip of the season to face the Binghamton Senators Wednesday night. The game will be the first regular season meeting between the two teams at the First Union Arena in Wilkes-Barre.

The Penguins recently moved out of last place in the South Division. Binghamton is above .500 and third in the five-team East Division.


Danielle Kresock, a sophomore from Forest City, and Nadine Taylor, a freshman from Susquehanna, are teammates on the unbeaten Wilkes University women's basketball team.

Wilkes is off to a 5-0 start.

In three games, including one start, Kresock averaged 8.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. She was 10-for-18 from the floor, 4-for-8 on 3-pointers and 2-for-4 at the foul line.

In 14 minutes over three games, Taylor was averaging 1.3 points and 1.7 rebounds. She was 2-for-4 from the floor and missed her only 3-point attempt.

TOM J. ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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Where Is PETTY ENTERPRISES Going? With 200 wins, Richard Petty has more Winston Cup victories than any other driver in the barnyard. No wonder he's called "The King."

He retired in 1992, eight years after his last win, but that was way back when Ronald Reagan was President.

Richard Petty continued to run the teams and all of the Petty Enterprises until son Kyle took over the reins two years ago.

Since then, there haven't been many bright spots or consistency on the track for either of the three Petty teams.

"The past was fun, the future looks bright," Kyle Petty said. "A lot of great things are on the horizon for Petty Enterprises."

Let's hope so. Because all three of Petty Enterprises' Winston Cup teams have managed to land some pretty good sponsors. But with mediocre performances, a Fortune 500 Company is not going to leave their name on a losing team forever.

Though the effort has been there, the personnel wasn't always. That changed before this season, when the team hired Robin Pemberton, Rusty Wallace's former crew chief. He created a lot of excitement, and Petty has confidence that their teams are on the upswing.

This past season, all three teams finished in the mid-20's often. In the 43 Dodge, Richard Petty's old car, John Andretti had an average finish of 25.3 this season. Although that's about three spots from 2001, he also finished 28th this year – three positions better than last. The 44 Dodge has been driven by several drivers this year after Buckshot Jones was fired early, but it rarely finished better than the 20's. And Petty, driver of the 45 Dodge, averaged a 22.1 finish – almost 10 spots better than last year.

With Andretti orally committed to come back to the 43 car, and the sponsor set to return, and Petty set to take on a new sponsor for his 45 car, he believes the two can continue to improve and average a finish at least in the high teens. He hopes the 44 team will come together soon and follow suit.

In three years, Petty believes the team can consistently finish in the top 10.

"That is what it is all about, running up front and winning races," he said. "That's the direction we're continually moving. There are cycles in all sports – look at dynasties like the New York Yankees and Boston Celtics – and we have made a lot of changes and a lot of strides to get back to the right spot in that cycle."

Petty, at one time, wondered if it would be possible to succeed on the Cup circuit with a three-car team. But, after seeing how much the team was able to improve in one season, Petty is convinced he's got the right plan in place.

"You look around the garage, and a lot of people are having trouble making these multi-car teams work," Petty said. "Some people say three-car teams won't work, but maybe two-car teams will. Others say a two-car team doesn't give you enough information or tests, so you have to have three cars. Then you have Jack Roush, who has either four or five or six teams, depending on how you count them.

"We think we have hit on the way to make a three-car team work, and work well. And it's starting to show on the race track, especially this year. We're not where we want to be yet but we sure seem to be headed in the right direction."

Petty's plan hinges upon having everyone on the team, work as a team. Not just to help the 43 or the 45 car succeed.

"The thing is everybody has to be pulling in the same direction," he said. "The guys who work on the 45 car have to be just as happy – and I mean sincerely happy – when the 43 guys do well or the 44 guys do well, and vice-versa. Having everybody work together and having everybody pull from the same drawer as far as cars and engines are concerned helps with that.

"There is a big picture. A lot of little pictures make it up but there is a big picture. Obviously, ours is to have three Petty Enterprises cars running at the front at the end of every race. That is when all of the little pictures will start coming to the forefront."

Petty Enterprises has been able to succeed by drawing on the Petty name and promoting several charitable organizations. But unless the Petty's begin to land some top-10 finishes, their sponsors are going to begin falling off faster than the Democrats in this year's elections.

ELLIOTT Most Popular Driver – Bill Elliott edged out fellow racer Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award for 2002. Elliott and Earnhardt battled for the leader position in recent months as fans across the country placed more on-line votes than ever before as part of the only fan-based NASCAR award. The announcement was made Friday during the National Motorsports Press Association's.

Elliott, a 27-year racing veteran who drove a Ray Evernham Dodge this season, has won the Most Popular Driver Award more times than any other driver - this marks his 16th victory.

"Everyone knows that the fans are the real heart of NASCAR. I owe many thanks to them because my fans have stuck by me and kept me going all these years," said Elliott, a Dawnsonville, Ga., native. "I am so fortunate to be part of this great sport and be recognized by this award."

MARLIN Cleared To Race Mooresville, NC – Sterling Marlin has been cleared to race.

Marlin will begin testing the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge at Talladega Superspeedway on December 9 and 10. During this time, Marlin will be fitted for the HANS device.

Marlin suffered a non-displaced fracture of the #2 cervical vertebra as a result of his accident at Kansas Speedway on September 29. Due to the injury, Marlin was sidelined for the remainder of the 2002 season and Jamie McMurray took over driving responsibilities in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge.

Racing Trivia Question: Who is the youngest champion in NASCAR Winston Cup history?

Answer To Last Week's Question: Ford won the Winston Cup Manufacturer's championship.

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:

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Seth Button Is November's Athlete of the Month

Seth Button needed very little time to get started when basketball season opened Nov. 29.

By the time the first quarter was over, Button had already made four 3-pointers and had 16 points. He went on to finish with 26 points and earn Elk Lake's Most Valuable Player award in a 57-55 victory over Carbondale in the annual Red Wallace Memorial Scholarship Game.

"It's pretty special considering he coached at our school and was such a big part of our program," Button said of Wallace, the former Boston Celtic who led Elk Lake to state championships in 1969 and 1977.

Button's effort makes him the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.

"It felt great. It was a big boost to my confidence," Button said. "I made them from both wings, a couple feet beyond the arc.

"If they leave me open, I'll shoot from there, but I like to take it to the basket, too."

Button averaged 18.1 points in league games last season and 19.8 overall. His return is one of the reasons the Warriors are regarded as the favorite to win the Lackawanna League Division II North title.

Elk Lake had its basketball season end last winter with a first-round playoff loss to Bishop Hannan.

"That was a tough draw, but it was a good experience to play against a state champion," Button said.

After helping the baseball team to the state semifinals, Button received second-team, all-star recognition as both a pitcher and a first baseman. He was a first-team division all-star in baseball as a freshman outfielder and a sophomore catcher.

Button had also played golf as a sophomore, but he passed up the sport this fall to concentrate on baseball where he played in a series of tournaments with the Moosic Mets traveling team.

Seth lives in Auburn with his stepmother, Loretta Button, and Bob Ralston.

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