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Issue Home November 25, 2003 Site Home

Local Sports Scene

Defense Carries Junior Sabers To Title

The Susquehanna Junior Sabers "B" team got off to a rough start this season, but it showed it was the best team in the Northern Area Junior Football League by the time the season was over.

Defense carried the Junior Sabers to the championship. The team posted eight straight shutouts then came up with a series of big defensive plays while handing the Carbondale Blitz their first defeat, 12-7, in the league’s Super Bowl November 16.

The Junior Sabers opened the season by suffering losses to Abington South, 24-0, and Carbondale, 8-0. During that time, they picked up a forfeit from Valley View to start 1-2.

The first seven shutouts brought the team’s record to 8-2 for a third-place finish in the 11-team league in the regular season.

Susquehanna then avenged its first loss by knocking off second-place Abington South, 6-0, in Clarks Summit in the semifinals. Jordan Aldrich scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Cody Scepaniak for the game’s only points. Adam Macazan had an interception in the win.

Carbondale reached the final by shutting out Abington North, 15-0, in the other playoff game.

The Junior Sabers handled the Blitz by forcing five turnovers in the final. They scored after two of the turnovers and used another to stop Carbondale’s hopes of pulling out a victory in the final minute.

After Carbondale held the ball for most of the first quarter, Brad Allen recovered a fumble at the Junior Sabers 11.

On the next play, which was the first play of the second quarter, fullback Joshua McKinney went around the end for an 89-yard touchdown and 6-0 lead.

Carbondale reached the Susquehanna 30, but another fumble stopped that threat.

Following another turnover, McKinney’s 25-yard run on fourth-and-one set up the second Susquehanna touchdown. Nick Felter’s 15-yard run around left end with 3:04 left in the third quarter made the lead, 12-0.

Carbondale rallied midway through the fourth quarter when Dustin Mancuso stripped the ball from a Junior Sabers runner and returned it 35 yards. Michael Torch went around left end for 15 yards on the next play and added the extra point to cut the lead to five.

After the Junior Sabers were stopped at midfield with two minutes left, Carbondale got as close as the Susquehanna 16.

Johnny Herbert’s second interception of the game on the 12 ended that threat with 48 seconds left.

The "B" team is for players 12-and-under and 130 pounds or less. Two years ago, many of the same players reached the "C" championship game before losing.


The first set of state basketball rankings by the Harrisburg Patriot-News came out last week.

The Forest City girls, coming off a 23-6 season, are one of five Class A teams to watch after the Patriot-News listed its top 10. That status projects the Lady Foresters to be one of the state’s top 15 Class A teams as the season opens.

In football, Lakeland and Lackawanna Trail each won, giving the Lackawanna Conference two state semifinalists.

Lakeland rallied to defeat Line Mountain, 28-13, in a matchup of Class AA unbeatens.

Line Mountain had eliminated defending state champion Mount Carmel a week earlier.

Joe Tuzze and T.J. Turpack combined for more than 300 yards rushing to lead Lakeland, the LFC Division 2 champion, to its victory.

Devin Myers threw two touchdown passes to Colin Golden in the first half as Lackawanna Trail handled Minersville, 35-7, in Class A.

The Lions opened a 28-7 halftime lead.

In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have outshot seven straight opponents but shaky goaltending has the team on a five-game losing streak.

Kris Beech was named team captain Friday, then went out and had two goals and an assist in each of the two weekend losses.

"The goaltender has to give us a chance to win," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said Saturday night. "That’s not what’s happening right now.

"It’s unacceptable."


The Wilkes University women’s basketball team has three county players on its roster.

Danielle Kresock, a 5-foot-4 junior from Forest City, started nine games last season and averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 rebounds.

Lauren Pantzar, a 5-foot-7 guard from Forest City, and Ashley Twining, a 5-foot-10 forward from Mountain View, are freshman additions to the roster.

Wilkes opened its season with two losses in the Messiah Tournament.


The winter sports season gets underway Friday with openers in boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball and wrestling.

The schedule for the first weekend includes the Tony Aliano Memorial Tournament in Carbondale Saturday and Sunday.

The tournament opens Saturday at 5 p.m. with Susquehanna and Carbondale playing a JV game. The Susquehanna and Carbondale varsity teams meet in a 6 p.m. semifinal, followed by Blue Ridge and Lakeland.

Blue Ridge and Lakeland will play a JV game Sunday at 5 before the consolation and championship games.

The Susquehanna Booster Club sponsors the game in memory of Aliano, who coached the Lady Sabers. Susquehanna won the tournament the first two years but lost to eventual champion Lakeland in the first round last season.

The tournament was moved to Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of a possible conflict with Lakeland’s football team in the state playoffs.

"That turned out to be a good move," Susquehanna coach Rick Mazikewich said.

In football, Lakeland will play District 11 champion Northern Lehigh in the Class AA state semifinals Friday night in Allentown. The Harrisburg Patriot-News has Northern Lehigh and Lakeland ranked 1-2 in the state.

Northern Lehigh had seven straight shutouts earlier in the season and shut out Delone Catholic, 6-0, in the state quarterfinals.

Lackawanna Trail faces Southern Columbia, the only defending champion still alive, in the Class A semifinals at Scranton Memorial Stadium.

Our football predictions were 2-0 last week, bringing the playoff record to 12-1 (92.3 percent) and the season record to 97-24 (80.2 percent).

This week’s predictions, with the winners in CAPS: LAKELAND 31, Northern Lehigh 15; SOUTHERN COLUMBIA 32, Lackawanna Trail 27.

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

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RUSTY WALLACE Plans Big Team Changes

"Miserable and embarrassing," is the way Rusty Wallace described his team’s 2003 performance.

Ryan Newmand and Rusty Wallace

After finishing 14th in the final Winston Cup points, with no wins, no poles, and only two, top-5s, Rusty Wallace says his No. 2 Penske South team is set to undergo major changes during the off season.

Wallace’s last win came at Fontana, California in 2001, back when Jeremy Mayfield was his teammate. Mayfield was replaced by Ryan Newman after the 2002 season, and has nine wins, eight of them coming this season.

"One of the main goals is to get the 2 car and 12 car to feed off each other," said Wallace. "So far, that hasn’t happened. It needs to happen next year. I didn’t agree to start a two-car team if it wasn’t going to benefit myself and the other car."

Wallace can’t seem to pinpoint his exact problems, while Newman goes merrily along his way, winning race after race, and pole after pole.

"The 12 car’s had a great season, and I really don’t know how to answer that one," said Newman.

Several times during the season Wallace has expressed his displeasure with the team. According to Wallace, crew chief Bill Wilburn will return in 2004, but there will be many other current personnel that won’t return.

"This has been the most miserable season of my racing career," said Wallace. "It won’t happen next year, I can tell you that.

"We are going to reorganize to get better personnel in certain areas. We’re definitely going to get something in motion because of off-season testing and a brand new tire that will make the setups different.

"It’s ridiculous and embarrassing not to win and be in the position I’m in, and not going to New York (for the NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet for the top-10 finishers, Dec. 5), and I’ve been there forever."

Meanwhile Bill Elliott, who won his first race of the season at Rockingham and was on his way to a second straight win at Homestead, FL, has been very vague about his retirement plans.

"I am going to retire eventually," Elliott said after scoring his 44th career victory. "I've thought through some of those things, but I haven't made a decision."

It’s probably hard for Elliott to think about hanging up his driving helmet right now, when he's enjoying a rejuvenating stretch in the No. 9 Dodge that culminated at Homestead in a race he led for 140 laps.

Amid the talk about whether he'll run a full schedule, a limited schedule or no schedule at all in 2004, Elliott has now finished 15th or better in 10 of the past 11 races and has been in the top five in six of those. He finished ninth in the points standings and it was his first top-10 point’s finish since 1997.

Meanwhile, Mike Ford, the crew chief on Bill Elliott’s No. 9 Dodge has left that team to take a similar position as crew chief on Dale Jarrett’s No. 88 Ford.

Where all this leaves Elliott and his possible retirement remains unclear.

Shawn Parker, who was Jarrett's crew chief this past season, has been offered another position at Yates, but there is no word on whether he will remain with the team.

Elliott has four wins - one in 2001, two last season and one this year - with Ford as crew chief. In 2001, Elliott finished 15th in points. He was 13th last year and this season moved back into the Top 10 (ninth).

Meanwhile, Dale Jarrett struggled this season, finishing 26th in points, with one only win, one top-five and seven top-10 finishes.

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.

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.

Final top-10 Craftsman Truck 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 Week’s 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:

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