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When Joe Zabielski pictured his Susquehanna Sabers this season he saw a football team working out of a four-man front on defense, trying to build its hopes on two big, experienced tackles in the middle.
That picture got scrambled in the first scrimmage when the Sabers lost Chris Cavanaugh to a broken hand that required surgery which likely will keep Cavanaugh from playing this season. Cavanaugh had broken the hand earlier playing volleyball.
The Sabers now will rely even more heavily on Bobby Reddon, their only returning full-time, two-way starter. Reddon, a 6-foot-6, 306-pound junior, is the right tackle on offense and a tackle on defense.
"We will anchor around him," coach Zabielski said. "He has to have a big year."
Zabielski plans to stick with the four-man front with Francis Lake likely joining Reddon at tackle.
Jordan Jackson returns at one end. Zach Pomeroy will be the other.
Joe Truskolaski is back at one inside linebacker. Brian Brady in the other inside linebacker while Ryan Dubas and Ernie Taylor are on the outside.
Nate Huyck returns at one corner with Kevin Kempa at the other. Anthony Dorunda in the safety.
The offense may undergo some changes as the Sabers try to find a combination that will produce the first win in Zabielski's three seasons as coach.
"We've seen that we're not going to be a true option team," Zabielski said. "We'll be more of an I-formation team."
Zabielski used a skills test early in practice to try to identify the best quarterback candidate.
Dorunda, a sophomore, emerged as the quarterback.
Taylor, who has experience at various backfield positions, will be the fullback.
Kempa is the leading candidate in a wide-open battle at tailback.
Huyck, who has some starting experience, and Cody Norris are the wide receivers.
Brady is the tight end.
Lake joins Reddon at tackle. Truskolaski and Cody Keiper are guards. Pomeroy is the center.
"Our offensive line looks more solid to start out," Zabielski said.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The high school sports season opened with the Jackman Memorial Golf Tournament at Scranton Municipal.
Montrose finished ninth out of 25 teams behind an 81 by Nick Harasymczuk, 83s by Jeff Evans and Dan Stranburg and an 86 by Kyle Adriance.
Mountain View's Kyle Kilmer had the best score by a county golfer with an 80.
In professional football, Montrose's Chris Snee did not need long to land a starting spot in the National Football League.
Snee, a second-round draft pick out of Boston College, is listed as the starting right guard for the New York Giants who are trying to improve what was one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season.
"It takes time for an offensive line to get used to each other and how each other plays, but I definitely feel we're coming along pretty well," Snee told the Newark Star-Ledger last week.
In professional baseball, second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who spent part of the season with the Binghamton Mets, was on the Eastern League all-star team that was announced last week.
Keppinger, who came to the Mets in a trade with the Pittsburgh organization, is leading the EL in hitting with a .341 average combined while with Altoona and Binghamton. He has since moved up to Class AAA Norfolk and New York.
Ryan Howard, who is currently with the Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, is also on the all-star team. Howard continues to lead the EL with 102 RBIs despite being gone for the past month. He hit 37 home runs and batted .297 with the Reading Phillies.
Despite the honors, both regional minor-league teams had tough weeks.
The Mets fell 2 1/2 games behind New Hampshire for the EL North Division lead.
The Red Barons slipped to four games behind the Durham Bulls and were caught by the Pawtucket Red Sox in the International League wild-card race.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Montrose opens its football season at home Friday against Lackawanna Trail, a state Class A semifinalist last season.
Susquehanna searches for its first win since 2001 when it plays at home Saturday against Carbondale.
Predictions for the high school openers involving Lackawanna Football Conference teams with winners in CAPS: MONTROSE 22, Lackawanna Trail 20; CARBONDALE 34, Susquehanna 13; SCRANTON 14, Wyoming Valley West 12; RIVERSIDE 20, Scranton Prep 14; LAKELAND 27, West Scranton 14; DUNMORE 13, North Pocono 0; HAZLETON AREA 21, Abington Heights 20; OLD FORGE 32, Bishop O'Reilly 8; VALLEY VIEW 7, Pittston Area 6; MID VALLEY 27, Wallenpaupack 20; HONESDALE 26, Western Wayne 6; DELAWARE VALLEY 40, East Stroudsburg North 12; BISHOP O'HARA 28, Sayre 26.
Our high school football predictions were 98-25 (79.7 percent) last season, including 13-2 in the playoffs.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
EARNHARDT Gets Double Win At Bristol
Bristol, TN Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is back on track. After a poor team performance for the past six weeks, Earnhardt won both the Friday night Busch Series race and Saturdays Nextel Cup Sharpie 500.
It was his fourth Cup win of the season, and it allowed him to remain third in the point standings.
"To win at Bristol, let alone sweep races at Bristol, its awesome," he said. "With about 100-laps to go I was thinking about how bad I hated this track, but now that weve won, I love it.
"That was probably the most physically draining experience Ive had in a race car. That long green-flag run, man, it was something else. I came to a lot of races here when my dad drove them. He made this place magical if you're an Earnhardt fan, and me being one of 'em. I might not have done it like he did it just now, but that was pretty damn close.
"He had some great races here. That's why this place is so magical to me. I've wanted to win here so bad. I never thought I'd win a Busch race and a Cup race the same weekend at Bristol. Good Lord. What a great day!"
Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team led a career-high 295 of 500 laps to dominate the Sharpie 500. Coupled with his win in Fridays NASCAR Busch Series race, Dale Jr. becomes the first driver to sweep races at Bristol, although it was the third time he has swept Busch and Nextel Cup races in one weekend (Talladega in 2003 and the 2004 Daytona Speedweeks were the others).
Ryan Newman finished second and Jimmie Johnson third. Jeff Burton, who switched over to Richard Childress Racing this past week was fourth. Elliott Sadler was fifth, followed by Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Dale Jarrett.
Polesitter Jeff Gordon, the current points leader was black-flagged late in the race after he lined up in the wrong spot on a restart.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2. Ryan Newman, 3. Jimmie Johnson, 4. Jeff Burton, 5. Elliott Sadler, 6. Sterling Marlin, 7. Jamie McMurray, 8. Kurt Busch, 9. Matt Kenseth, 10. Dale Jarrett.
Chase For The Championship Slims Down The Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship will begin in just two weeks with 10 contenders. After the Sharpie 500 at Bristol, there are only three drivers locked into it; Jeff Gordon (3380), Jimmie Johnson (3356), and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (3305).
The remaining top-10 drivers and their points that would make the field now are: 4. Tony Stewart-3195, 5. Kenseth-3156, 6. Busch-3051, 7. Sadler-3019, 8. Harvick-2923, 9. B. Labonte-2919, 10. Newman-2918.
In my opinion, there are five other drivers that have a chance at making the cut. They are:
Kasey Kahne-2892. His weekend at Bristol started great he qualified second but he crashed the car in the second practice. The team elected not to use a backup, and Kahne faded from the top 10 after the first third of the race.
"We lost some good points. We've got to run good at California and Richmond," said Kahne.
Mark Martin-2883. Martin finished a lap down in 13th a lap he lost when he drove down both pit roads during a round of green-flag stops. Had Martin finished on the lead lap, he would have finished at least seventh. As it was, he was 13th and stayed the course in the Nextel Cup standings.
Despite the error, it was the third straight week Martin has run well.
Jeremy Mayfield-2883. Mayfield finished 22nd right behind teammate Kahne and dropped two spots to 13th in the standings, 35 behind Newman.
Dale Jarrett-2873. Jarrett scored his fourth top-10 in the last six races, but he knows it could have been better. He tangled with Robby Gordon on Lap 366, costing him valuable track position and leaving him scrambling to stay on the lead lap.
"Its not impossible," Jarrett said about his chances. "Weve just got to go have two good races. Well concentrate on California next week and if we can have a good race there, well have a good chance."
Jamie McMurray-2873. McMurray is also expected to be strong at Fontana, where he finished 15th in the spring and fifth in 2003. McMurray didn't gain any spots in the standings, after Bristol, but he gained 35 points on the final spot in the Chase.
Casey Mears has a mathematical chance, but he is 290 points out of 10th spot, and I think that is a little too much.
TRUEX Continues As Busch Leader The top-10 Busch Series points leaders: 1. Truex-3634, 2. Busch-3556, 3. Leffler-3202, 4. Biffle-3116, 5. D. Green-3093, 6. Keller-3076, 7. Hornaday-3055, 8. Hamilton Jr.-2896, 9. Bliss-2829, 10. Lewis-2673.
HAMILTON Leads Truck Points The top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 16 of 25 races: 1. Hamilton-2415, 2. Setzer-2319, 3. Edwards-2269, 4. Crafton-2240, 5. Kvapil-2180, 6. Chaffin-2168, 7. Musgrave-2125, 8. Starr-2031, 9. Crawford-2015, 10. Skinner-1990.
The Nextel Cup and Busch Series are at Fontana, CA, while the Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off. This is the inaugural Labor Day Weekend event at California Speedway. This weekend of racing was formerly run at Darlington Raceway.
Saturday, September 4, Busch Series Target House 300, race 25 of 34, 150 laps/300 miles, 3 p.m. TV: NBC.
Sunday, September 5, Nextel Cup Pop Secret 500, race 25 of 36, 250 laps/500 miles, 7 p.m. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: Cup driver Ryan Newman had a great season last year, but how many races has he won this year?
Last Weeks Question: Which Cup team will Terry Labonte be driving for in 2005? Answer. Labonte will continue to driver for Hendrick Racing.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to www.race500.com.
Mountain View School retained its title and the "cup" at the second annual Rock Creek Golf Course Invitational, held at Rock Creek Golf Course on Wednesday, August 25. The competing schools were Forest City, Lackawanna Trail, Mountain View, and Susquehanna.
The scores were as follows: Mt. View (325); Lackawanna Trail (338); Forest City (338); Susquehanna (374).
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