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If Dick Bagnall and Tom Lucenti have their way, it might be difficult to recognize the Susquehanna and Montrose teams this season.
Bagnall and Lucenti have each produced more than 100 career victories as the coaches of Susquehanna County's only two high school football programs.
Bagnall came out of retirement during the 2004 season, but was unable to halt a losing streak which has now stretched to 33 games.
"This is new Susquehanna football," Bagnall said, "not the 0-33 football. That's what we're trying to instill with the team."
Actually, Bagnall would not mind talk of old Susquehanna football. It was just a decade ago that the Sabers wound up as the state's second-ranked Class A team after losing to Southern Columbia in the state semifinals.
The Sabers dug out jerseys from that era to wear in their two scrimmages and walked off the field Friday night in Wyalusing with the feeling that they could compete.
"We talk about it, absolutely," Bagnall said of the losing streak. "Who wants to be 0-and-33?"
Bagnall said the defense still needs significant work, but offensive improvement made Friday's scrimmage a much more positive experience.
"The kids were enthusiastic for the first time in a long time," Bagnall said. "We were able to say we had a chance to win or maybe even did win the scrimmage."
Montrose's offense has a different look as well, but for different reasons.
Lucenti has abandoned the double tight-end, power-I offense that made his program perhaps the most run-oriented in the state in the last 18 years and helped develop National Football League offensive lineman Chris Snee.
The Meteors are working through the transition to a wing-T offense.
"We're putting a new offense in," Lucenti said. "For doing that, I thought we did pretty well in the scrimmages."
Scrimmages are over and the regular season starts Friday.
The "retro" jerseys will be put away, but when the Sabers take the field they will have the team's old look in a return to the previous style of helmet logo.
The Sabers will even play a home night game for the first time in the program's 36-year history when temporary lights are brought in for the Bishop O'Hara game September 30. The junior football program will also use the lights for its home games the next night.
By the time the team makes history that night, it should be clear if the changes are more than cosmetic.
"Everybody was good compared to us last year," Bagnall said when discussing the strengths of teams around the Lackawanna Football Conference. "We haven't focused on the opponents."
For the record, the Sabers play what may be the top three teams in Division II of the LFC during the first four weeks.
The Sabers return the top three rushers in their option offense attack.
Anthony Dorunda is back at quarterback, along with running backs Ernie Taylor and C.J. Felter, a sophomore.
Lee Page and Julian Andujar may also see some action at running back.
There is also experience in the offensive line.
Zach Pomeroy is back at center while Bob Reddon and Francis Lake return as the tackles. Brian Brady moves from tight end to guard where he will be joined by Josh Jenkins. Cody Kuiper will also play guard.
Aaron Onyon and Nick Ott are working at tight end. Cody Norris and Kevin Kempa are the most experienced in a group of receivers that also includes Dustin Shaw and Brian Price.
Reddon is a four-year starter at tackle where he will once again be joined by Lake. Pomeroy also has experience as a starter.
Kuiper and Jenkins are working at nose guard.
Onyon, Ott, Ryan Hawk and Andujar are being looked at as defensive ends.
Brady and Taylor return at linebacker. Page, Kuiper and Jenkins could also play there.
Kempa, Norris, Shaw and Dorunda all return in the defensive backfield where Felter also has experience.
Montrose, which slipped to 3-7 last season, will play a nine-game schedule this season. The Meteors will take the fifth week off.
Dominick Lucenti, the coach's son, will be responsible for running the offense.
The Meteors are trying to fill in after losing their running backs, including 1,000-yard rusher Tom Burgh, to graduation.
Dennis Moore moves from tight end to move to one halfback spot. Jared Fowler will be the other halfback and Taylor Smith is at fullback.
Tackle Bob O'Malley is the only returning starter in the offensive line. Jared Olah is at center, while Bud Roszel and Guy Roszel are guards. Shawn Snee, Chris' brother, is the other tackle.
Tom Meixner is the tight end and Nick LaBarbera is the split end.
Moore returns at one defensive end and Fowler takes over at the other.
Olah is the nose guard with O'Malley and Snee at tackle.
Guy and Bud Roszel are linebackers, along with Jack Moyer.
After two seasons as a strong safety, Lucenti moves to free safety in the 5-3 defense. LaBarbera and Smith are the cornerbacks.
Montrose is part of Division II of the LFC. Carbondale, Dunmore, Lakeland, Scranton Prep and Western Wayne make up the rest of the division.
Susquehanna is in Division III along with Bishop O'Hara, Lackawanna Trail, Mid Valley, Old Forge and Riverside.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose placed 14th out of 23 teams for the best finish among the four Susquehanna County high school golf teams that took part in the Jackman Memorial Tournament at Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
Jonathon Lodge led Montrose with an 84, a score that was matched by Forest City's Brad Sparks and Mountain View's Kyle Kilmer.
In professional baseball, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson is putting together a strong finish to what, at times, has been a trying season.
After weeks of part-time play with the Class AA Altoona Curve, Thompson has played every inning for 17 straight games. He also moved back into center field and the leadoff spot in the batting order Wednesday and stayed there for all five games through Sunday night.
Thompson has stolen 15 bases in the 17 games to move into second in the Eastern League with 41 in 86 games. He is hitting .260.
Thompson had a four-game hitting streak August 17-20 in which he went 10-for-18 (.556) with seven runs scored. He capped the stretch with a 4-for-5 effort.
With Altoona and Bowie tied in the ninth inning August 22, Thompson hit a grand slam for his third homer of the season and an 8-4 victory.
The Eastern League all-star team includes Binghamton Mets catcher Mike Jacobs, who was hitting .321 with 25 homers and 93 RBIs in 117 games when he was called to the New York Mets August 17.
Jacobs left a 22-game hitting streak behind in Binghamton. He then made his major-league debut with a pinch hit home run August 27, starting a stretch in which he hit four homers in his first four major-league games and became the first player ever to hit four homers in his first 13 major-league at-bats.
After seven games with the Mets, he was hitting .348 with nine RBIs.
Like Binghamton, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons were officially eliminated from the playoff race. The Red Barons are currently last in the Class AAA International League North Division.
Golf is the only fall sport that already began league play.
All six county teams are in the 13-team Lackawanna League North Division.
Elk Lake and Montrose play in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division II in field hockey. There are 12 teams in the division.
Susquehanna, Forest City, Mountain View, Blue Ridge and Elk Lake join three other teams to force the Lackawanna League in girls' volleyball. The league opens play September 6.
Mountain View plays in Division I, along with the other eight strongest programs of the Lackawanna League. Montrose and Forest City are among the eight teams in Division II while Blue Ridge and Forest City are among the eight teams in Division III. League games begin September 8.
Blue Ridge, Forest City, Montrose, Mountain View and Elk Lake join Lakeland, Western Wayne and Carbondale to make up the Lackawanna League Northern Division in girls' soccer. League play begins September 13.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Both county football teams open their seasons Friday night on the road with tough assignments.
Montrose will be at three-time defending District 2 Class A champion Lackawanna Trail and Susquehanna will be at likely Lackawanna Football Conference Division II contender Carbondale.
We will again predict the outcomes of all high school football games involving LFC teams this season. Last season's predictions had a record of 96-18 (84.2 percent).
Predictions for opening week games, with the winners in CAPS: LACKAWANNA TRAIL 26, Montrose 6; CARBONDALE 33, Susquehanna 13; DELAWARE VALLEY 38, East Stroudsburg North 14; HONESDALE 28, Western Wayne 14; NORTH POCONO 12, Dunmore 7; WYOMING VALLEY WEST 26, Scranton 21; PITTSTON AREA 20, Valley View 14; MID VALLEY 36, Wallenpaupack 28; LAKELAND 21, West Scranton 20; SCRANTON PREP 40, Riverside 12; BISHOP O'HARA 32, Sayre 22; OLD FORGE 29, Loyalsock 14; HAZLETON AREA 24, Abington Heights 17.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Kenseth Shows The Way At Bristol
Bristol, TN – Matt Kenseth was happy to be back in victory lane after 56 winless races. Kenseth led five times for 415 laps in Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"This feels great,” said Kenseth. “I haven't been in Victory Lane in a long time.
“I was a little scared if we had like a 150-lap run that we were gonna be too loose, but it was a 70-lap run and they couldn't run with us. We were pretty stout, so it feels great.”
The win moved Kenseth from 20th in the standings to 11th.
The top-10 drivers in the standings after the Sept. 10 race in Richmond make the Chase, and Kenseth's victory now has him 11 points out of the final qualifying position.
"I had all but written off our chances to get in three races ago," car owner Jack Roush said. "I was thinking 'building to next year' all the way. But they've got it turned around now. It's going to be a horse race."
Jeff Burton, a former teammate of Kenseth's at Roush Racing who now drives for Richard Childress, fought his way to second and got a chance to end his own 135-race winless streak when a late caution set up a two-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Burton attempted one pass, but Kenseth’s No. 17 DeWalt Ford was too strong.
"That was all I had," Burton said. "Matt had the best car tonight, and he was really fast. We put ourselves in position to knock one off and came up just a little bit short."
Greg Biffle, Kenseth’s teammate, finished third.
Kevin Harvick was probably the race’s biggest loser as he got caught up in a wreck between feuding Dale Jarrett and Ryan Newman.
Newman hit Jarrett from behind on lap 299 and caused Jarrett to spin out. On Lap 317, Jarrett found himself in a similar position with Newman on the track and this time spun Newman. The result was Newman's No. 12 Dodge was wrecked badly and slid down the track and was hit by Harvick, who was trying to pass the accident.
NASCAR saw the move as intentional and assessed Jarrett a two-lap penalty for rough driving.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a fast car, but finished 9th. His chances of making the chase appear slim with just two races left.
“Not even worried about it,” said Dale Jr. “I’m having fun driving these race cars, and that’s all I think about. We dug ourselves a pretty big hole (in the points), so I’m just going to keep driving and have a helluva good time doing it.”
Jeff Gordon’s sixth-place finish moved him into 10th in the points.
19 Drivers In Running For Chase – Here are the 19 drivers that still have a mathematical chance of making this year’s Chase: 1. Stewart-3410, 2. Johnson-3197, 3. Biffle-3186, 4. R. Wallace-3139, 5. Martin-3014, 6. Mayfield-2983, 7. Busch-2982, 8. Edwards-2849, 9. Newman-2819, 10. J. Gordon-2799, 11. Kenseth-2788, 12. McMurray-2787, 13. Sadler-2765, 14. Jarrett-2721, 15. Earnhardt-2682, 16. Harvick-2677, 17. Nemechek-2660, 18. Vickers-2590, 19. J. Burton-2529.
Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, and Rusty Wallace have already clinched a spot. The other’s must continue to race for a position.
Is There A Toyota In WALTRIP’S Future? Where is Michael Waltrip headed? That was one of the questions most asked in the garage area this past week at Bristol.
About the only thing certain is that Waltrip will not be driving the No. 15 NAPA Nextel Cup Chevrolet at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Waltrip made the announcement several weeks ago that he would not be with his present team in 2006, but has not made any public statements as to which team he will be associated with, except to say, he will field his own Busch team.
“We don’t have all the plans worked out, but there will be something forthcoming right after Labor Day, or by the middle of September,” said Waltrip.
Most racing insiders are betting that he will be in a car owned by Bill Davis Racing.
And the car will be a Toyota.
First, he has good relations with Toyota, since his older brother, Darrell has run 16 races in a Toyota Craftsman truck.
And second, Bill Davis already has a Toyota Racing Development program in place.
There has also been speculation that NAPA might not return as primary sponsor on DEI’s No. 15, but if that happens, then another sponsor has already been lined up for Busch driver Paul Menard.
Meanwhile, three-time Winston Cup champion, Darrell Waltrip, says the Oct. 22 race at Martinsville will be his last race, period.
“I love racing in the truck series because it gives old guys like me a chance to go out and have fun,” said D.W. “But we’re definitely going to call it quits after Martinsville. I won’t be racing competitive again.”
NASCAR Out To Take Over Souvenir Business – According to a news article by Mike Mulhern of the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, NASCAR executives have asked Jack Roush to sell them his souvenir business.
Mulhern reports that NASCAR wants to control all the sport's souvenir business and to reorganize Souvenir Row at each Nextel Cup tour track into something like a permanent strip mall, rather than a parking lot of traveling trailers. They also want to be able to package a full-service souvenir concession at Wal-Marts, Targets and other mass-market outlets.
By controlling key distribution centers, they would create a virtual monopoly for all souvenir sales and any driver not willing to sign up would probably have to sell track-side souvenirs off the track premises.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Truex-3756, 2. Bowyer-3562, 3. Sorenson-3412, 4. Edwards-3331, 5. Hamlin-3182, 6. K. Wallace-3136, 7. D. Green-2908, 8. Stremme-2892, 9. Menard-2887, 10. Keller-2819.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Setzer-2515, 2. Musgrave-2372, 3. Hamilton-2258, 4. Hornaday-2254, 5. Spencer-2235, 6. Reutimann-2190, 7. Skinner-2186, 8. Crafton-2144, 9. T. Bodine-2131, 10. Starr-2118.
The Nextel Cup and Busch cars will be at Fontana, CA, while the Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off.
Saturday, September 3, Busch Series Target House 300, race 27 of 35, 150 laps/300 miles, 4 p.m. TV: NBC.
Sunday, September 4, Sony HD500, race 25 of 36, 250 laps/500 miles, 8 p.m. TV: NBC.
California Speedway track information: Size: 2-mile oval; Banking in turns; 14
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Ryan “Rocket” Newman drive for?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the sponsor of the Victory Junction Camp? Answer. The Petty Racing family is the primary sponsor.
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.
Sunday, August 21, Sam Milora, visiting from North Carolina was golfing a foursome with John and Darleen Sholtiss and Denise Reddon, all of Susquehanna County, at Lake Lorain Golf Course and made a hole-in-one at hole number 5, a par 3, 155-yard hole. It was the third of his golf career.
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