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Winter sports teams went through their first week of official practice last week in preparation for season openers right after Thanksgiving.
With one exception, Susquehanna County teams will see a lot of each other in league play, which begins next month.
Montrose, because of its larger enrollment, will play in the Lackawanna League Division I North in boys basketball. The Meteors are in a division with Abington Heights, Scranton, Scranton Prep and West Scranton.
The other county teams Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Forest City, Mountain View and Susquehanna are all part of the Division II North along with Carbondale, Lackawanna Trail and Sacred Heart.
In girls basketball, all six county schools are joined by the same teams Carbondale, Lackawanna Trail and Carbondale Sacred Heart in the Division II North.
All the county wrestling teams are now together in Division II of the Lackawanna Wrestling League. Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Montrose, Mountain View and Susquehanna are joined in the division by Bishop OHara, Scranton Prep and Valley View.
The first Lackawanna League play comes in girls basketball with games scheduled in Division I and the Division II North December 8. That night, Susquehanna will be at Forest City, Elk Lake will be at Sacred Heart, Lackawanna Trail will be at Mountain View and Blue Ridge will be at Carbondale.
By that time, all of the teams will have started play with non-league games.
Montrose has an opening-night bye and does not begin league play until December 11 at Susquehanna.
Half of the countys girls basketball teams will be defending championships. Mountain View won the division last season, but Montrose (Class AA) and Forest City (Class A) wound up winning district titles.
Boys league play starts December 12. The openers include North Pocono at Montrose, Susquehanna at Forest City, Elk Lake at Lackawanna Trail, Sacred Heart at Blue Ridge and Carbondale at Mountain View.
Tournament competition is the highlight of wrestling in December. League matches do not begin until January 7 when Elk Lake will be at Mountain View, Scranton Prep will be at Susquehanna, Montrose will be at Bishop OHara and Blue Ridge will be at Valley View.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Wyoming Area, Lakeland and Lackawanna Trail won District 2 football championships.
Wyoming Area avenged a double-overtime loss from two weeks ago by scoring on a fake field goal with one second left to defeat arch-rival Pittston Area, 28-21, in the Class AAA championship game.
The Warriors also avenged a loss in the semifinals when they beat Berwick.
Pittston Area led, 21-7, in the third quarter before Wyoming Area rallied.
Joe Marianaccis one-yard run and a 22-yard pass from Brett Gibbons to Mario Palmieri tied the game. Marianacci then passed 24 yards to Mark Mattei on the fake field goal.
Lakeland remains District 2s only unbeaten team after rallying past Dunmore, 21-10, in the Class AA championship game Friday night at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
The Chiefs trailed until T.J. Turpacks touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter. Joe Tuzze then produced the winning margin with a 34-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Rob Mitchell had put Dunmore ahead, 10-7, on a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter. The Bucks finished the game without head coach Jack Henzes. Henzes, who has a history of heart problems, was taken to a Scranton hospital. He was released the next day.
Lackawanna Trail shook off Matt Wzoreks 84-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff to rally past Riverside, 39-20.
Lee Van Fleet ran for three touchdowns to lead the Lions to their fourth District 2 Class A title in the last five years.
The two district champions from the Lackawanna Football Conference were prominent on the schedules of the two Susquehanna County teams. Montrose opened its season with Lackawanna Trail and closed it against Lakeland. Susquehanna played Lackawanna Trail and Lakeland back-to-back to start the second half of its schedule.
Honesdale fell to Dallas, 29-12, in the Eastern Conference Class AAA championship game.
In professional football, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers arenafootball2 team is only beginning to prepare for its third season but it already has its fourth head coach.
Les Moss was named last week as the replacement for Dean Cokinos, who led the team to its second straight 6-10 season.
"Were going to get right to work on putting a championship team together," said Moss, 36, who was part of two Arena Football League championships with the Orlando Predators, where he served in several positions including assistant coach and Director of Player Personnel.
In professional baseball, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons second baseman Chase Utley was named to the TOPPS/Minor League Baseball Triple-A All-Star team.
Utley batted .323 with 18 home runs and 77 RBIs before an early August recall by the parent Philadelphia Phillies.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins saw their top two scorers, Tom Kostopoulos and Tomas Surovy, get a deserved recall to the parent Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Binghamton Senators lost their hold on the American Hockey League East Division lead to the Hershey Bears. The Senators and Penguins are third and fourth in the seven-team division.
Susquehanna graduate Jeff Rood completed his college cross country career at Millersville University by finishing 17th in the NCAA Division II East Regionals to help the Marauders to a third-place finish.
Rood was a three-year letter winner at Millersville, where he earned all-Region status last season with a 13th-place finish and all-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honors with a 12th-place finish.
In his senior year, Rood helped Millersville to a pair of invitational victories. He was fourth in the win at Bloomsburg and fifth in a win at DeSales.
After running fourth or fifth on the team in the first three races, Rood was Millersvilles second-best runner in three of the teams final four events.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Lakeland and Lackawanna Trail play in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association football quarterfinals Friday night.
Lakeland gets to return to Scranton Memorial Stadium for a game against unbeaten District 4 champion Line Mountain, which is coming off a 35-28 victory over defending state champion Mount Carmel.
Lackawanna Trail will head to Schuylkill County to face District 11 champion Minersville, which got past Cardinal Brennan, 21-14, in double overtime.
Our football predictions were 3-0 last week, bringing the playoff record to 10-1 (90.9 percent) and the season record to 95-24 (79.8 percent).
This weeks predictions, with the winners in CAPS: LAKELAND 27, Line Mountain 26; LACKAWANNA TRAIL 28, Minersville 7.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
BOBBY LABONTE Makes Victory Lap Pass For Win
Homestead, FL Bill Elliott, who had the dominant car in Sundays Winston Cup Ford 400, had a tire go down on the last and final lap of the 267 lap race, allowing Bobby Labonte to get his second win of the season.
"It was a gift," said Labonte. "He was so strong all day and could run wherever he wanted to, but when I saw that 9-car slow down, I told them on the radio, its our time.
"It was pretty cool for us to win. Its been a long time without one."
Labontes last win came in April at Atlanta, and it was the 21st of his career.
Elliott was able to pull away from the rest of the field on several restarts late in the race, but as he headed into turn 2 after taking the white flag, his red No. 9 Dodge wiggled, and then slowed with a flat right tire.
After winning last week at Rockingham, and leading 189 laps, Elliott coasted home eighth.
Kevin Harvicks second-place finish moved him into fifth spot in the final points standings.
Jimmie Johnson came in third and will finish the year in second place in the points. He went a lap down early in the race with a flat tire, but his team gave him quick pit stops throughout the remainder of the race, and he was able to make up the lap.
"There was such good work on pit road that we were able to advance forward and on top of that we had a good race car that we could race with the leaders," said Johnson.
Jeff Gordon had a good car, but he was never able to threaten the three leaders near the end of the race.
"I couldnt be more happier with the effort put out today," said Gordon. "We didnt have the best car, the track kept getting tighter and tighter, we kept adjusting, and it was a great day for us."
Polesitter Jamie McMurray was ninth.
A week after clinching his first Winston Cup title, Matt Kenseth suffered the same fate that many of his competitors experienced this year as he lost an engine in his No. 17 DeWalt Ford during lap 34.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Bobby Labonte, 2. Kevin Harvick, 3. Jimmie Johnson, 4. Johnny Benson, 5. Jeff Gordon, 6. Jeremy Mayfield, 7. Tony Stewart, 8. Bill Elliott, 9. Jamie McMurray, 10. Sterling Marlin.
Top-10 final points: 1. Kenseth-5022, 2. Johnson-4932, 3. Earnhardt Jr.-4815, 4. J. Gordon-4785, 5. Harvick-4770, 6. Newman-4711, 7. Stewart-4549, 8. B. Labonte-4377, 9. Elliott-4303, 10. T. Labonte-4162.
Young BRIAN VICKERS Wins Busch Title, Miami, FL Kasey Kahne earned his first career NASCAR Busch Series victory in the Ford 300 while Brian Vickers won the Busch Series driver's championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kahne, driving the No. 38 Great Clips Ford, led the final 29 laps for a .590-second victory over Martin Truex Jr. and Bobby Hamilton Jr.
"It's the last race of the year," said Kahne, who won his first Busch Series race in his 54th career start. "Our team has as much momentum as any team going into next year. It feels real good. Brian Vickers and that whole team, they deserve that championship."
Vickers, who at one point was a lap down, rallied for an 11th-place finish and a 14-point margin of victory for the NASCAR Busch Series driver's championship over David Green, who finished ninth.
Green, who also rallied from three laps down, was disappointed but proud of his team's effort.
"We are a disappointed team, but we do have an awesome team," Green said.
Truex, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chance 2 Motorsports team, was delighted with his second-place run.
Jamie McMurray, driving the No. 1 Miccosukee/Yellow Dodge, led the most laps during the Ford 300, but a cut tire eliminated him from contention and he settled for a 20th-place finish.
Scott Riggs, who had a long shot at winning the driver's championship, got collected in a first lap accident and finished 41st.
Final top-10 Busch points leaders: 1. Vickers-4637, 2. D. Green-4623, 3. Hornaday-4591, 4. Hamilton Jr.-4588, 5. Keller-4528, 6. Riggs-4462, 7. Kahne-4104, 8. J. Sauter-4098, 9. Wimmer-4059, 10. Bliss-3932.
KVAPIL Takes Truck Championship In Wild One, Miami, FL Bobby Hamilton won the Ford 200 and Travis Kvapil took the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.
Hamilton, driving the No. 4 Square D Dodge, held off Rick Crawford on the final restart to take a .186 second victory and the $10,000 bonus from Craftsman for winning from the pole.
"Our truck has been great," Hamilton said. "We didn't have anything to lose and everything to gain, so that's what we went for. We needed to win another race. We haven't won as many races as we should be winning. We had a good day and it was a good week."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship looked to be heading to a couple of different drivers as the Ford 200 reached its conclusion.
Brendan Gaughan, who entered the race with the points lead, appeared on his way to the championship, but his truck was involved in a multi-car incident coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 101.
"We had a Dodge that could have won the championship," said a disappointed Gaughan. "We'll end up second, third or fourth in the championship and for a team based out of Las Vegas, that's not half bad."
On the final restart, the three remaining championship contenders Kvapil, Dennis Setzer and Ted Musgrave were seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.
Musgrave was black flagged for passing before the start/finish line on the restart, which opened the door for Kvapil, driver of the No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet, to earn his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.
Final top-10 points leaders: 1. Kvapil-3837, 2. Setzer-3828, 3. Musgrave-3819, 4. Gaughan-3797, 5. Wood-3659, 6. Hamilton-3627, 7. Crawford-3578, 8. Edwards-3416, 9. Cook-3212, Chaffin-3143.
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the first driver to exceed one million dollars in NASCAR winnings?
Last Weeks Question: During his 28 years as car owner, Richard Childress has had 10 different drivers. Which one of those drivers won the most races? Answer: Dale Earnhardt.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by the Gerald Hodges/ the Racing Reporter, go to: www.race500.com.
The Susquehanna Junior Sabers "B" team headed to Carbondale on Sunday, November 16, with high hopes of continuing their winning season by capturing the title of the NAJFL League Championship.
Both defenses were up to the challenge, causing turnovers, making tackles and doing what is expected of them. The Jr. Sabers offense was pumped up and with only minutes left before the half, a 70 yard touchdown run put them up 6-0.
In the 3rd quarter, the Jr. Sabers found the end zone again, and went up 12-0. Four minutes into the 4th the Blitz came back with a touchdown of their own to put them on the board. With the Blitz threatening again, with under a minute left in the game, a big interception by the Jr. Sabers clinched the Superbowl victory for them.
With the Cheerleaders cheering, parents and fans clapping, and players overcome with the joy, they received their medals for all of their hard work and determination paid off throughout the year.
Congratulations to the boys, their coaches, and parents.
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