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Montrose's greatest accomplishments on the high school football field have been built around a relentless running attack led by powerful blockers.
Fittingly, when that success reached beyond local fields to the highest levels of football for the first time Sunday, it was a drive-blocking offensive lineman in the spotlight.
Chris Snee became Susquehanna County's first National Football League player when he went the distance as the New York Giants' starting right guard in a 31-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants suffered their ninth straight loss, but Snee's presence helped improve an offensive line that was arguably the league's worst a year ago.
Tiki Barber followed blocks by Snee and right tackle David Diehl on a late 72-yard run that pumped up already strong rushing statistics by the Giants. Before Barber's run, the Giants were already averaging almost five yards per carry on their way to an effort that produced 170 yards on 23 carries.
Snee, a second-round draft pick, chose to pass up an additional year of eligibility because of a redshirt season at Boston College. The move appears to have been well-timed with Snee already in the starting lineup.
Snee's debut came a day after Montrose used its old-fashioned power running attack to handle rival Susquehanna, 36-6.
The Meteors did not complete a pass but ran 47 times for 370 yards.
Tom Burgh led the way by carrying 17 times for 242 yards. Burgh ran for the last four Montrose touchdowns and three two-point conversions.
Quarterback Dom Lucenti scored on a three-yard run and Burgh added a 20-yard score for a 12-0 lead after one quarter.
Susquehanna quarterback Anthony Dorunda scored on a four-yard run to get the Sabers within 12-6, but Burgh quickly restored control for the Meteors.
Burgh's 62-yard run and two-point conversion made the advantage 20-6 at half-time.
The Meteors added fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 46 and 67 yards by Burgh, who also scored the two-pointer each time.
The two teams combined for 525 yards rushing.
Justin Marbaker added 52 yards on 15 carries and Dustin Palmer added 44 on seven carries for Montrose (1-1).
Susquehanna (0-2) was led by Ernie Taylor, who had 75 yards on 11 carries. Dorunda carried 12 times for 66 yards.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Rich Thompson homered in the final game of the season for the Nashville Sounds, a Pacific Coast League team and the top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Montrose graduate finished among the PCL leaders in three categories.
Thompson led the league with 13 triples, finished second with 41 stolen bases and was tied for fourth in hit by pitches with 13.
At Nashville, Thompson played 112 games and batted .287. He scored 67 runs and had seven doubles and five home runs. He drew 26 walks and struck out 62 times.
Thompson opened the season in the major leagues with the Kansas City Royals. He spent most of April in Kansas City, appearing in six games, but getting just one at-bat. He stole one base and scored one run.
The two regional minor-league teams stumbled at the end of the season.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons ended the year on a seven-game losing streak while the Binghamton Mets lost 12 of their last 13.
Binghamton actually lost its last nine regular-season games, but was so successful earlier in the season that it still reached the Eastern League playoffs where it lost, three games to one, to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Two games in the Eastern League Northern Division series were scoreless into the seventh inning.
Starter Yusmeiro Petit matched New Hampshire's Gustavo Chacin for six innings in the opener, which the Mets eventually lost, 2-0. Chacin allowed just one hit while striking out 13 in seven innings.
New Hampshire handed Binghamton its 11th straight loss and put the Mets on the brink of elimination with a 10-4 win in Game Two. Chris Basak went 3-for-4 and Angel Pagan doubled twice to drive in two runs for the Mets in the loss.
The Mets extended their season with a 1-0 win in 10 innings Friday night when they scored on an infield error by New Hampshire. Neal Musser gave up just four hits and struck out eight before P.J. Bevis got the win with an inning of scoreless relief.
New Hampshire eliminated Binghamton with a 5-2 victory Saturday.
Both regional teams got to see top prospects roll through, but neither team could hold together the success that had them in first place beyond the midpoint in the season.
New York Mets third baseman David Wright opened the season in Binghamton where he hit .360 through June 30. He had 10 home runs, 40 RBIs, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 60 games.
Minor-league home run champion Ryan Howard spent the last month of the season with the Red Barons, finishing a season in which he averaged an RBI per game. Howard hit .297 with 37 homers and 102 RBIs in 37 games in Reading before hitting .270 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 29 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Despite the excitement that should have been generated for each franchise by jumping out to division leads, both Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Binghamton finished 10th in their leagues in attendance.
The attendance numbers should be a concern for markets that would be mistaken by getting comfortable thinking teams on their respective levels are a guarantee. Both markets went through extended stretches without professional baseball and Binghamton has experienced a drop in level in professional hockey before returning to the American Hockey League.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators introduced their new coach during a press conference.
Dave Cameron, who went 145-87-30-10 while leading the Toronto St. Michael's Majors to the Ontario Hockey League conference finals in each of his four seasons, will take over for John Paddock.
"Dave is a guy who came up similar to how I came up in the coaching ranks," Ottawa general manager John Muckler said while making the announcement of his organization's new AHL coach. "He shows his dedication by his record and he shows his success by his record. He will be successful here, too."
Cameron will get some help from Paddock in the likelihood that the National Hockey League has a lockout to start the season. Paddock has been moved up to an assistant coaching job in Ottawa.
"The fact that John Paddock is going to be around to help out is going to make my transition easier and I am pretty excited about that," Cameron said.
Paddock's 495 wins are the third-most in AHL history. He led three different teams to Calder Cup titles.
A day before his brother's National Football League debut, Dan Snee opened his sophomore season at Lycoming College as the starting fullback.
Snee had consecutive two-yard carries in the fourth quarter, with the second producing a touchdown for a four-point lead, but the Warriors were upset by King's College, 31-28. Snee also caught a pass for two yards.
Lycoming, a national Division III power, went into the season as the Middle Atlantic Conference favorite.
Snee is one of three Montrose sophomores playing for Lycoming.
Dave Van Nort, a 6-foot-4, 258-pounder, started last season at defensive tackle. He was seventh on the team in tackles, fourth in sacks and third in tackles for losses.
Van Nort started again Saturday but had just one tackle.
Joe Cosmello, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound running back, carried twice for seven yards. That matches his total carries for last season when he gained four yards.
Snee, a 6-foot, 215-pounder, played in four games last season. As a freshman, he carried seven times for 30 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for 10 yards.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Lackawanna Football Conference moves into division play in Division I while Divisions II and III play crossovers against each other.
Montrose is home with Old Forge Friday night in a meeting of 1-1 teams while Susquehanna travels to Scranton Prep (1-1).
This week's high school football predictions, with the winning team in CAPS: OLD FORGE 28, Montrose 12; SCRANTON PREP 46, Susquehanna 8; HONESDALE 27, Valley View 6; WEST SCRANTON 25, North Pocono 8; DELAWARE VALLEY 20, Wallenpaupack 19; CARBONDALE 22, Mid Valley 13; RIVERSIDE 17, Dunmore 10; LAKELAND 43, Lackawanna Trail 12; BISHOP O'HARA 35, Western Wayne 14; SCRANTON 25, Abington Heights 24.
Our record for last week's predictions was 10-2 (83.3 percent), improving the season record to 19-6 (76.0 percent).
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
MAYFIELD Wins, Gets Into The Chase
Richmond, VA Jeremy Mayfield won the Chevy Rock-and-Roll 400 Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Mayfield needed the victory to clinch a spot in the top-10 in points, which qualifies him for the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship.
Mayfields first win in four yearsafter Kurt Busch ran out of gas with eight laps to goputs him in the top-10 and into the playoffs.
"We had no choice but to try to win the race and lead the most laps," said Mayfield. "We really put it all together because we knew we had to win."
Mayfield was the only driver to move up into the top-10 this week. His teammate Kasey Kahne finished 12th and dropped out of the top-10.
The next 10 races will consist of the Chase for the Championship. It will begin next Sunday at Loudon, NH with Jeff Gordon as the leader.
Following Gordon in five-point increments will be Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart,
Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Mayfield, and Ryan Newman.
Any of these 10 drivers can win this years Nextel Cup championship, which ends Nov. 21st at Homestead, FL.
Top ten finishing order of Chevy Rock & Roll 400: 1. Jeremy Mayfield, Dale Earnhardt Jr., 3. Jeff Gordon, 4. Mike Bliss, 5. Mark Martin, 6. Carl Edwards, 7. Mike Wallace, 8. Greg Biffle, 9. Jamie McMurray, 10. Rusty Wallace.
Whos Going To Fill Their Shoes? The old-time drivers are rapidly becoming short-time drivers.
But whats going to happen when all of NASCARs now popular drivers retire?
Whos going to fill their shoes?
Rusty Wallace is the latest driver to announce his retirement after the 2005 season, and many fans are sad to see him go.
"Im really going to miss seeing him every week," said Jerry C of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. "He wasnt always one of my favorite drivers, but he contributed so much to the sport.
"He and a few others that are still left helped bring it where it is today."
The transition of older drivers leaving and younger ones taking their place is not an easy one to fathom, especially since NASCAR is moving into a new era.
But like in everything else, change is inevitable.
Currently there are nine other drivers; Jimmy Spencer, Kyle Petty, Ward Burton, Dale Jarrett, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin, Ken Schrader, and Ricky Rudd that are in the twilight of their careers.
There are plenty of other good drivers that are either ready to fill their shoes, or already have.
Jeff Gordon at 33, along with Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ryan Newman are only four of many popular young drivers.
But will these younger drivers be around long enough to build up a large fan base like most of the veterans, who are either leaving the sport, or have left it in the recent past.
Jeff Gordon, who already has four championships, says he doesnt see himself racing into his 40s. And he doesnt have too, because like todays drivers, hes been able to earn more money, in a much shorter time.
So, financially, the need isnt there for them to remain on the circuit as long. And with increased demands on their time, its hard for a driver with a family to want to stay in the sport as long.
In NASCAR as in other professional sports, the level of competition has increased so much that it wears people out quicker.
Drivers are going to come and go, but as NASCAR introduces the sport to newer fans, then the driver fan base will continue to stay at its present level. If NASCAR racing slows down, or becomes stagnant, then the loss of top-name drivers would be noticeable.
I really dont see NASCAR slowing down much in the near future, but I think drivers will come in, race five or six years, and either get out of be pushed out.
Thats the way the game appears to be heading.
TRUEX Leads All Busch Drivers The top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Truex-3954, 2. Kyle Busch-3849, 3. Leffler-3501, 4. Biffle-3436, 5. D. Green-3332, 6. Hornaday-3236, 7. Keller-3219, 8. Bliss-3094, 9. Hamilton Jr.-2896, 10. Lewis-2870.
HAMILTON Continues To Lead Truck Series The top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Hamilton-2500, 2. Setzer-2443, 3. Edwards-2424, 4. Crafton-2340, 5. Musgrave-2315, 6. Chaffin-2265, 7. Kvapil-2250, 8. Starr-2125, 9. Skinner-2124, 10. Crawford-2106.
The Nextel Cup and Craftsman Trucks are at Loudon, New Hampshire. The Busch Series has the weekend off.
Saturday, September 18, Craftsman Truck Series New Hampshire 200, race 18 of 25, 200 laps/211 miles, 1 p.m. TV: Speed Channel. Sunday, September 19, Nextel Cup Sylvania 300, race 27 of 36, 300 laps/317 miles, 12:30 p.m.; TV: TNT.
Racing Trivia Question: Which driver holds the record for career starts in the Daytona 500?
Last Weeks Question: Last week Rusty Wallace announced his retirement after the 2005 season. How many Winston Cup championships has Wallace won? Answer. Wallace has one Winston Cup Championship to his credit (1989).
If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to www.race500.com.
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