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Scranton – Susquehanna County players were nowhere to be found Wednesday night when the Dream Game returned to Scranton Memorial Stadium for the first time in 16 years.
A former Susquehanna coach, however, was prominent in the evening's festivities.
The Scranton Lions Club, which sponsors the 71-year-old, all-star game, honored Mike Hemak at halftime as its Man of the Year.
Hemak, the coach who restarted Susquehanna's program in 1969, was honored at halftime for his contributions to the Dream Game and local high school football.
While it is caught in a lengthy losing streak and the biggest struggles of its history, it can be difficult at times to appreciate just how fortunate Susquehanna's football program was from the start.
With apologies to coaches in all other sports, there simply is no other sport on the high school level that requires as much from its head coach.
In addition to making arrangements to have assistant coaches work with groups of players to develop a wide variety of skills, football coaches need to teach a playbook to young athletes so that they can translate a play call within seconds to get in and out of the huddle on time.
Wasted effort can come back to haunt a coach who does not properly manage time.
Once a team is prepared to start a season, scouting opponents and quickly making weekly adjustments is a necessity.
Taking on all of these responsibilities at a new program is a huge task.
Hemak handled the challenge of starting a program.
After leading Susquehanna through a junior varsity season in 1969, the program moved to the varsity level in 1970 and won two games each of its first two years.
It took Hemak just four years to produce the first winning season and six years to share in a championship for the first time. He was 31-29-1 as the Sabers' first coach.
Hemak, who retired from teaching in 2002, had a 77-72-5 career record as a head coach. He went 7-7-1 in two years at Jessup before coming to Susquehanna and 39-36-3 in seven years at Abington Heights after leaving the Sabers.
After retiring as head coach, Hemak remained active as an assistant at Lakeland where he still is on the staff. He was head coach of three Dream Games and assistant for two others.
Susquehanna's football program benefited from making the right moves in hiring Hemak and Dick Bagnall, one of the assistants at the time, as the school's first two head coaches.
It is sometimes forgotten what realistic expectations should have been for success in football at a school of Susquehanna's size. For three decades, the Sabers consistently exceeded that level.
Bagnall took the foundation that Hemak had created and built from there. His teams won multiple titles and more than 100 games while reaching as far as the state Class A semifinals.
When he returned to the sideline in the middle of the 2004 season, Bagnall's task became to try to get an established program back even to a level that Hemak created from the start.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose graduate Rich Thompson helped the Altoona Curve climb into second place in the Eastern League South Division with a 10-game winning streak that came to an end Wednesday.
Thompson started in five games during the streak and came off the bench in one other. He went 6-for-17 (.353) with three runs, three walks and four stolen bases during the streak.
Thompson is sixth in the Eastern League with 26 stolen bases. He ranks that high despite the fact that his 66 games are the least of anybody ranked in the top 19 in the league. Thompson spent the early part of the season in the Class AAA International League before moving down to Class AA.
In professional football, Chris Snee, another Montrose graduate, is listed as the starting right guard at New York Giants training camp in Albany, N.Y.
Matt Panasevich earned All-American honors for the second straight summer when he finished 8th in the Junior Division at the USA Wrestling Greco-Roman National Championships at Fargo, N.D. July 23-29.
Panasevich, who is heading into his senior year at Mountain View, won his first five bouts in the tournament. He posted two quick pins, a shutout and two close decisions.
After dropping two decisions, Panasevich fell to Cody Reitmeier of Ohio by technical fall in the round to determine seventh and eighth place. The first loss came, 7-0, to eventual national runner-up Trevor Perry of Michigan.
Panasevich also competing in Freestyle wrestling where he won a decision and a 21-second pin before dropping two straight bouts and being eliminated.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
STEWART Gets Emotional Brickyard Win
Indianapolis, IN – Indiana native Tony Stewart was able to realize his boyhood dream as he managed to hold off a late-race charge from Kasey Kahne and pulled away to win Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
“I wish I could put it in words. Today has been my entire life” said Stewart.
Stewart, who led 44 laps of the 160-lap race, lost the lead to Evernham driver Kasey Kahne on lap 131. There was a caution on lap 145 after Jimmie Johnson had a right front tire go down and he hit the outside wall.
On the restart, Stewart passed Kahne for the lead going into turn two and led the remaining 11 laps.
Kahne led 39 laps, but had to settle for second.
“We had an awesome car, said Kahne. “It was really good through one and three, but I had to spot Tony through the other two turns. I just gave up a little bit too much on the last restart and got behind him.
“I couldn’t do anything with him after that. I think if I could have held on to the lead I might have been able to hold him off.”
Brian Vickers’ third-place finish was the highest of any Hendrick Motorsports team.
“I wanted that win so bad,” said Vickers. “We really stepped it up this week, and we had a good run.”
Stewart's victory combined with Jimmie Johnson's crash on Lap 145 gave Stewart the points lead with only five races remaining before the Chase for the Nextel Cup begins at New Hampshire. Stewart now leads Johnson by 75 points. Greg Biffle is third, followed by Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s recent surge towards making the Chase may have officially ended at Indianapolis, when he was caught up in a crash on Lap 61. He wound up finishing last in the 43-car field.
Polesitter Elliott Sadler had a tire go down late in the race and finished 32nd.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Tony Stewart, 2. Kasey Kahne, 3. Brian Vickers, 4. Jeremy Mayfield, 5. Matt Kenseth, 6. Casey Mears, 7. Mark Martin, 8. Jeff Gordon, 9. Sterling Marlin, 10. Kyle Busch.
Current Chase for the Cup Contenders: 1. Stewart-2923, 2. Johnson-2848, 3. Biffle-2812, 4. R. Wallace-2705, 5. Busch-2646, 6. Martin-2636, 7. Newman-2568, 8. Mayfield-2554, 9. Jarrett-2493, 10. Edwards-2487.
Field Of Roush Wanna-Be Drivers Down To 12, Martinsville, VA – After two days of testing at Martinsville Speedway last week, Roush Racing narrowed the field of 25 contestants to just 12 drivers who will advance to the next round of competition to begin August 15 at Darlington Raceway. These drivers are all competing for a spot on Jack Roush’s race team and a fully sponsored ride in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Candidates are competing on and off the track, testing their skills behind the wheel as well as their marketability and fan appeal. The high-energy 13-part series DRIVER X: RACE FOR THE RIDE will debut on Discovery Channel October 31, 2005.
Jack Roush and his team of judges poured over 1,700 applications at the start of the competition and narrowed it down to a list of 25 drivers from across the United States, Canada and New Zealand in search of the best drivers to take part in this exclusive competition.
“The competition at Martinsville was impressive,” said Jack Roush. “We had a tough decision narrowing the field down to 12 drivers, but I think the 12 we have selected will be very strong candidates for our NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride in 2006. We are going to put the 12 drivers through some various marketing activities next week in Charlotte before we take them to Darlington for their final test the following week. I personally watched all 25 drivers at Martinsville and look forward to seeing what they’ve got at Darlington.”
The drivers that have been selected to compete in the second round at Darlington Raceway, August 15-17 are: Tim Andrews – Concord, NC; Chuck Barnes – Louisville, KY; Jason Boyd – Orlando, FL; Jeffrey Choquette – Loxahatchee, FL; Erik Darnell – Beach Park, IL; Jason Hogan – Cleveland, GA; Travis Kittleson – Mooresville, NC; Matt McCall – Denver, NC; Danny O’Quinn – Coeburn, VA; David Ragan – Kannapolis, NC; Peter Shepherd – Norval, Ontario; Auggie Vidovich – Lakeside, CA.
TRUEX Continues As Busch Leader – The top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Truex-3286, 2. Bowyer-3201, 3. Sorenson-3182, 4. Edwards-2955, 5. K. Wallace-2890, 6. Hamlin-2847, 7. D. Green-2629, 8. Stremme-2593, 9. Lewis-2573, 10. Menard-2550.
SETZER Extends His Truck Lead – The top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Setzer-2279, 2. Musgrave-2052, 3. Hamilton-2050, 4. Hornaday-2006, 5. Spencer-1974, 6. Reutimann-1929, 7. Crafton-1918, 8. Cook-1905, 9. Craven-1891, 10. Starr-1864.
The Nextel Cup and Busch series cars will be at Watkins Glen, NY, while the Craftsman Trucks race at Lebanon, TN.
Saturday, August 13, Busch Series race 24 of 35, 90 laps/220 miles, 2 p.m. TV: NBC.
Craftsman Trucks Toyota Tundra 200, race 16 of 25, 150 laps/200 miles, 5 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Sunday, August 14, Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen, race 22 of 36, 90 laps/220 miles, 1 p.m. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: What is the home state of Jeff Burton?
Last Week’s Question: Which Nextel Cup team does Mike Wallace drive for? Answer: Wallace drives the No. 4 Morgan/McClure Chevrolet.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. You may write him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
Hannah Price spent the summer preparing for the transition from junior high scoring leader to high school basketball player by seeking out as much quality competition as possible.
Price, a 14-year-old heading into her freshman year at Susquehanna, held up well against that competition.
In addition to playing in the Jewish Community Center Summer League in Vestal, N.Y. with other varsity and junior varsity players for the Lady Sabers, Price played AAU basketball on the Southern Tier New York Flyers' premier 14-and-under team.
Price also tried out for and made the Keystone State Games Pocono Region Junior Division team for players going into ninth and 10th grades. Playing among other top players from around the state for the second straight summer, Price was the Pocono Region's leading scorer in two games while helping the team reach the bronze medal game with a 3-1 record in round-robin play.
The Keystone Games performance earned Price recognition as the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
"This year's (Pocono) team had some more experienced players," Price said. "We had more players who played on AAU teams and more from big schools. And, we had a lot of height."
Price, the second-tallest player on the team at 5-foot-10, had 14 points each as Keystone won its first two games, 72-35 over Nittany and 65-27 over Great Lakes.
"When I try out for teams, I try to look for teams that have players with more experience," Price said. "I try to find a chance to play against better players and people from bigger schools.
"I look at it as a learning experience and a chance to have fun."
Price's STNY Flyers team completed its summer with a 25-6 record. She finished her week at the Keystone Games with an average of eight points per game.
Hannah is the daughter of Ray and Rita Price of Oakland Twp.
The 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 as an automotive testing and competition facility at a time when the burgeoning car industry was thriving in Indiana.
At that time, the center of American automobile production was not in Detroit, but Indianapolis, Indiana. The Hoosier capital boasted of more than one hundred manufacturers.
Jeff Gordon after his fourth Brickyard 400 win in 2004.
Carl Fisher and three other Indianapolis businessmen got together and built a race track on land owned by Fisher. The track turned out to be a two and one-half mile oval for a very simple reason: that’s all the land Fisher owned.
The length of the first race was set at 500 miles because that was all the racing that could be completed in daylight hours.
During the first race, the track’s original crushed stone and tar surface (called asphaltum), broke up and caused the deaths of one driver, two riding mechanics and two spectators.
Fisher made the decision to replace the original surface with more than three million bricks, each weighing more than ten pounds. The resurfacing was completed in only sixty-three days.
Since 1911, the Brickyard has hosted one of the most famous races in the world -- the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. That first race had an astronomical purse of $25,000, and more than 80,000 fans showed up, which made it the largest single-day sporting event in the world.
Many people thought that hell would freeze over before NASCAR would ever hold a race at Indianapolis, but at the end of the 1992 season the NASCAR powers that be began talking with IMS officials about the possibility of holding an annual NASCAR event at the historic speedway.
Every thing was finally able to come together for the 1994 season.
In the inaugural 1994 NASCAR Brickyard 400, over 260,000 fans watched as Hoosier fan favorite, Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag.
Since that inaugural race, Gordon has gone on to win three more times (2004, 2001 and 1998).
If you could say that anyone has dominated the Brickyard 400, then that driver would be Gordon. He has scored four top-10 finishes in his last four races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, two were victories.
Last year, Gordon earned an unprecedented fourth Brickyard 400 with a dominating performance in a wild, tumultuous race. He became only the fifth driver to win a major event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times. His childhood racing hero, Rick Mears, won the Indianapolis 500 four times along with racing legends A.J. Foyt and Al Unser. Michael Schumacher has won the United States Grand Prix four times at IMS.
Gordon’s four victories in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet in 11 Brickyard starts marks the shortest span in which a driver has scored four major victories at the legendary 2.5-mile Speedway.
There have been six different race winners in the last eight NASCAR races at Indy, since 1997, but starting up front is important, because seven of the 11 races have been won from seventh or better.
Mark Martin has scored six top-10 finishes in his 11 races at IMS, but has never won there. He has finished second once in 1998.
Rusty Wallace has nine top-10 finishes in his 11 races at Indianapolis. Wallace has finished second three times, most recently in 2002.
Rick Hendrick is the all-time winning owner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, posting four victories, all by Jeff Gordon.
Race Winners: 1994-Jeff Gordon, 1995-Dale Earnhardt, 1996-Dale Jarrett, 1997-Ricky Rudd, 1998-Jeff Gordon, 1999-Dale Jarrett, 2000-Bobby Labonte, 2001-Jeff Gordon, 2002-Bill Elliott, 2003-Kevin Harvick, 2004-Jeff Gordon.
What: NASCAR Nextel Cup Allstate 400, Distance: 160 laps, 400 miles, TV: Pre-race: 2 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, Aug. 7, NBC (live), Race: 2:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 7, NBC (live), Radio: Pre-race: 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 7, IMS Radio Network (live), Race: 2:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 7, IMS Radio Network (live).
Track: Total track length: 2.5 miles, Total turns: Four, Turn banking: 9 degrees, 12 minutes, Straightaway banking: 0 degrees, Straightaway width: 50 feet, Turn width: 60 feet.
NextLevel Hoops Shooting and Offensive Skills Camp for Boys and Girls in 8th-12th Grade was held July 25–27 at Forest City Regional High School. Under the direction of Jason Maile and counselors Amanda Vitzakovitz and Jason Pantzer, campers enjoyed three days of shooting and offensive skill development along with competitive basketball. Pictured above (l-r) are: standing – Jason Maile, Brian McGrath, Mike McGraw, Kyle Shollock, Brian Molt, Amanda Vitzakovitch; kneeling – Jason Pisarcik, Jared Pisarcik, Stanly Vitzakovitch, Mike Callum, Justin Pisarcik; sitting – Jason McGovern, Spencer Schoch, Erica Schoch, Blaise Ross, Jeremy McGovern. Missing from photo were Ryan Ogozaly, Shane Whitehead.
Special award winners were as follows: Foul Shooting Champion – Ryan Ogozaly; 1-on-1 Champion – Ryan Ogozaly; Hot Shot Champion – Jason Pisarcik; Coaches Award – Erica Schoch; Knockout Champion – Mike McGraw; Step-Back Champion – Jason McGovern; Shooting Star of the Week – Jared Pisarcik.
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