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The Montrose Meteors build each football season around their power running game.
This pre-season will be spent rebuilding that attack.
"Right now, we're replacing all three running backs, (Dave) Van Nort and three or four other kids from the front-line," coach Tom Lucenti said. "We'll have to see how all that comes together."
Montrose is coming off a 6-4 season.
The same players who will be prominent in the running game are behind the team's biggest strength the secondary.
"We have more experience in the secondary than anywhere else," Lucenti said.
Tom Burgh returns at cornerback and Justin Marbaker is back at free safety. Kyle Stoddard, the other cornerback, also has some experience.
Domenick Lucenti, the coach's sophomore son, completes the secondary as the strong safety.
Burgh and Marbaker each gained some offensive experience last season. Burgh is likely to be the tailback while Marbaker will start in the backfield, likely at the powerback/wingback position.
The offense has only two players returning to their same starting spot.
Jon Rounds is back at quarterback while Brett Silverman is a tight end. Greg Honeychuck moves from left guard to right tackle.
The rest of the offensive starters are new. They are center Larry Lundy, guards Bill Myers and Nate Aldrich, tackle Jesse Tyler, tight end Joe DiBiassi and either Chris Short or Rocky Spoler at fullback.
Lundy has some starting experience at linebacker where he will be joined by Spoler.
Tyler was a rotation at players at defensive end. Tackles Jason Beardsley and Honeychuck also got playing time last season.
Short is at nose guard while Dennis Moore is the other defensive end.
Coach Lucenti will spend the first half of the season maneuvering the sideline on crutches after undergoing surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon. He suffered the injury while trying to rescue a distressed swimmer at the New Jersey shore earlier this month. Lucenti is conducting practice from a golf cart.
"It's really difficult," Lucenti said. "I can't coach the way I want to. I can't demonstrate anything."
The Meteors open Friday night at Lackawanna Trail. They play their home opener against Susquehanna September 5. The rest of the schedule, with home games in CAPS, is: September 12, at Dunmore; September 19, CARBONDALE; September 26, at Old Forge; October 3, MID VALLEY; October 10, at Western Wayne; October 18, at Bishop O'Hara; October 24, SCRANTON PREP; October 31, LAKELAND.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The high school sports year got started August 19 with the Jackman Memorial Golf Tournament at Scranton Municipal.
Mike Stranburg followed up on a strong summer of tournament play by shooting even-par, 72 to finish third overall and lead Montrose to an eighth-place finish in the 23-team field. Aaron Orah (85), Nick Harasymzuk (86) and Jeff Evans (87) helped the Meteors to a four-player team score of 330.
Elk Lake's Tom Blaisure, who shot 85, had the second-best score by a county player.
Mike Green shot 89 and Brad Sparks had a 90 as Forest City placed 19th with a 369, six shots ahead of Elk Lake.
Kirk Lunger shot 90 for Elk Lake.
Mountain View finished last with a team score of 406. Billy Kilmer led with a 100.
Stephanie Sterchak of Forest City was the top local girl. She finished eighth in the 22-player field with a 104.
One of the top local efforts was overlooked during our coverage of the Keystone State Games.
Amanda Vitzakovitch of Forest City led the way and Kate LaBarbera of Montrose also contributed as the Pocono team won the Scholastic Female gold medal in basketball.
Vitzakovitch had a game-high 17 points, including two 3-pointers, as Pocono opened with an 83-66 victory over Nittany. LaBarbera added six points in the win.
Pocono completed pool play unbeaten as Vitzakovitch scored 45 points in the next three games wins over Great Lakes, 79-40; Lehigh Valley, 83-79; and Delaware Valley, 71-51. LaBarbera added five points in the win over Delaware Valley.
Pocono won the gold with a 92-89 victory over Laurel Highlands.
Golf has already moved into Lackawanna League play.
Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Forest City, Montrose, Mountain View and Susquehanna are all in the Northern Division along with Carbondale, Honesdale, Lakeland, Carbondale Sacred Heart, Valley View, Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne.
Soccer starts Friday with county teams in three different divisions of the Lackawanna League.
Montrose plays in Division 2 with Honesdale, North Pocono, Scranton Prep, Valley View, West Scranton and Western Wayne.
Blue Ridge, Elk Lake and Mountain View are in Division 3 with Bishop Hannan, Bishop O'Hara and Dunmore.
Forest City is in Division 4 with Carbondale, Lakeland, Mid Valley and St. Gregory's Academy.
Montrose and Elk Lake play in the Wyoming Valley Conference in field hockey where they are in the Class AA Division along with Bishop Hoban, Bishop O'Reilly, Crestwood, Dallas, Lackawanna Trail, Lake-Lehman, Nanticoke, Northwest, Wilkes-Barre GAR, Wilkes-Barre Meyers and Wyoming Seminary.
Montrose and Elk Lake also have the county's only two girls' tennis teams. They play in the Lackawanna League East Division with Abington Heights, Bishop Hannan, Dunmore, North Pocono, Riverside, Scranton, Scranton Prep and West Scranton.
All 22 Lackawanna League teams compete together in cross country. All six county schools sponsor the sport.
We will once again provide predictions on games involving Lackawanna Football Conference teams this season.
Predictions for the opening weekend, with winners in CAPS: LACKAWANNA TRAIL 20, Montrose 16; SUSQUEHANNA 16, Carbondale 14; DELAWARE VALLEY 40, Athens 6; WILKES-BARRE MEYERS 20, Wallenpaupack 17; HONESDALE 30, Western Wayne 18; NORTH POCONO 28, Riverside 7; PITTSTON AREA 14, Valley View 10; SCRANTON 21, Wyoming Valley West 20; OLD FORGE 33, Bishop O'Reilly 6; DUNMORE 42, Mid Valley 21; LAKELAND 21, West Scranton 14; HAZLETON AREA 14, Abington Heights 12; BISHOP O'HARA 20, Bishop Hafey 7; SCRANTON PREP 29, Wilkes-Barre GAR 6.
Deliver Me From NASCARS New Theology Fans, sponsors, and teams have tried for over 50 years to get NASCAR racing accepted throughout the country as a great family sports division not the old "red-neck racing" it used to be known for.
On a recent television program, Mary Scully, editor of Racing Milestones, said, "The old southern boy type of racing that used to characterize NASCAR racing is gone and Im glad of it."
Lord, I must have missed a turn in the road, because Im on a different elevator.
Growing up on grits, biscuits, cornbread, turnip greens, and an occasional pork chop, I thought I was very fortunate to be able to fish in the summertime and roam the woods in the fall and winter in search of small game with a hunting dog.
As I grew older and learned Southern Baptist theology, I discovered I wasnt supposed to do a lot of things that were enjoyable. And I learned this present life wasnt anything like the blissful one I that would be given me in the future.
There is nothing new about drivers fighting or attempting to wreck a competitor during a race. Dale Earnhardt did it to perfection, and his fans loved it when he took out another driver near the finish line. Its just a competitive spirit connected with our emotions. Its there and it will always be there.
In a recent interview, Tony Stewart, the defending champion said, "It just isnt worth it to mouth off or express your opinion." Lately Stewart has kept his mouth shut, but he also hasnt done well in races.
Maybe by suppressing his emotions, hes also suppressed some of his other skills and talents.
Instead of using personal driving skills during a race, NASCAR wants teams to place more emphasis on increased technology, fuel mileage, specialized personnel and fast pit stops.
Thats all great, but the organization was built on individuality, and the reason all the millions of fans have switched to NASCAR is because of that image.
The rich, famous and yuppie-types have joined the legions of prior NASCAR fans because they saw something they liked.
How long will new fans continue to switch to something that no longer holds their emotions? And how long will the older fans hang out with NASCAR when Jimmy Spencer can no longer be called, "Mr. Excitement."
If cars cant bang into each other, and drivers arent allowed to express their emotions, then why would anyone want to watch?
I once had a sports editor tell me that watching cars go around in a circle was the silliest thing he had ever seen. But he went on to say that, "The drivers are what really makes the sport worth watching."
If the drivers are muzzled and refrained from throwing a punch, speaking out or even uttering a "cuss" word or two on television, why would anyone want to watch it?
Except to maybe find out what the advertisers have to say.
I know the world is changing and I guess Ive missed the boat provided by NASCAR. But Ive also rejected the religious theology that says the redeemed are just going to sit around in a place made of gold, sing, listen to the snowy white angels play their harps, and attend a constant prayer meeting.
If that is what the real heaven is like, that place down south is better suited for me.
As for me, just show me the action. I dont buy NASCARs changes. Money, and big corporate sponsors wanting something they could fit into their boardrooms that would be accepted by the stockholders brought about these changes.
My prediction is that NASCAR is going the way of wrestling and daytime soap operas. The way they control the garage area, it would be very easy right now for them to give certain teams an advantage.
I dont know where the racing is headed, but I do know that big money interests and not the efforts by individual drivers will carry it there.
Sorry if I burst some bubbles, but Ive been involved in the racing game since 1967 and experience wont allow me to get back on NASCARs turnip truck.
What do you think about the way NASCAR is headed? Send us your comments. If we use them we will send you an 8 X 10 photo of your favorite driver. You may also call me at 1-800-726-7022.
BUSCH Bounds Back At Bristol, Bristol, TN Kurt Busch had no chance at winning a popularity contest, but he bounced back from all the adversity experienced the previous week at Michigan to win Saturday nights Winston Cup Sharpie 500 before 170,000 fans.
Busch was booed by most of the fans before the race and again in victory lane. But in spite of the negative reaction, the young Roush Racing driver gave a good account of himself as he won his fourth race of the season in his No. 97 Ford.
Busch took the lead from Kevin Harvick on lap 380 and even though there were six more cautions he got a good restart after each one to maintain his lead.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Kurt Busch, 2. Kevin Harvick, 3. Jamie McMurray, 4. Matt Kenseth, 5. Jimmie Johnson, 6. Ryan Newman, 7. Dale Jarrett, 8. Ricky Craven, 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 10. Jeremy Mayfield.
Top-10 points leaders after 24 of 36 races: 1. Kenseth-3592, 2. Earnhardt Jr.-3241, 3. Harvick-3128, 4. Johnson-3063, 5. J. Gordon-3060, 6. Busch-2990, 7. Newman-2971, 8. Waltrip-2960, 9. B. Labonte-2907, 10. R. Gordon-2835.
RIGGS Leads Busch Series Top-10 Busch Series points leaders after 23 of 34 races: 1. Riggs-3330, 2. D. Green-3302, 3. Hornaday-3233, 4. Keller-3226, 5. Vickers-3195, 6. Hamilton Jr.-2961, 7. Hmiel-2947, 8. J. Sauter-2878, 9. Wimmer-2855, 10. Kahne-2812.
KVAPIL Tops Truck Leaders Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 16 of 25 races; 1. Kvapil-2488, Gaughan-2480, 3. Musgrave-2417, 4. Setzer-2365, 5. Crawford-2341, 6. Wood-2324, 7. Hamilton-2990, 8. Leffler-2209, 9. Edwards-2187, 10. Cook-2100.
Its the traditional Labor Day Southern 500 at Darlington next weekend for the Winston Cup and Busch teams. The Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off.
Saturday, August 30, Busch Series South Carolina 200, race 24 of 34, 147 laps/200 miles, 2 p.m. TV: NBC.
Sunday, August 31, Winston Cup Mountain Dew Southern 500, race 25 of 36, 367 laps/500 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: Which former Winston Cup driver helped popularize the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline-sponsored Ford among NASCAR fans?
Last Weeks Question: What is Michael Waltrips home state? Answer: Waltrip is from Owensboro, Kentucky.
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.
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