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Football players can spend their entire playing career searching for a perfect hit like the one Anthony Dorunda delivered midway though the fourth quarter of Friday night's game at Montrose.
Dorunda's stop was one of the biggest reasons members of the Susquehanna Sabers football team will not have to go through the nightmare of a winless high school career.
The Sabers made a series of defensive stops in a scoreless second half to halt their losing streak at 34 games with a 7-6 win over the arch-rival Meteors.
"I knew the defense would come through when we needed it to," said Dorunda, who as quarterback led the offense with 102 yards rushing and the team's only touchdown. "Our seniors deserve this. They waited four years for this."
Susquehanna's last win came, 27-13, October 13, 2001 against Bishop O'Hara when the current seniors were in eighth grade.
Many tough times followed, along with many desperate measures meant to reverse the disappointment.
Players from Blue Ridge were added to the program in a cooperative sponsorship beginning with the 2003 season. Dick Bagnall, the program's all-time winningest coach, came out of retirement midway through the 2004 season.
Dorunda led a strong effort by the Blue Ridge contingent and Bagnall was on the sideline with a revamped coaching staff as the Sabers ended the streak and showed the potential for more future victories.
"I couldn't wait to get here," Dorunda said of learning that Blue Ridge and Susquehanna would work together in football as he was preparing to go from eighth to ninth grade. "I wanted to move so I could play football somewhere else.
"Now, I'm able to stay at my high school and play football. I was so excited when I heard that. These guys are my best friends now."
Dorunda started both ways as a freshman and moved to starting quarterback last season as a sophomore.
Bagnall relied heavily on Dorunda to run the option offense that the Sabers became famous for in his first stint as coach.
Progress could be seen with the way that offense was developing in preseason scrimmages and an opening-night loss to Carbondale.
The streak was stopped when the defense joined in. The Sabers had allowed an average of 38.5 points per game during the losing streak. They gave up 36 or more points in eight of the 10 losses last season.
Friday night they gave up one score and got contributions from a series of players.
Ernie Taylor and Robert Reddon were in on the most plays while end Nick Ott and sophomore nose guard Joshua Jenkins produced multiple big plays.
Dorunda was not heard from as often on defense, but his stop was the type needed to end the losing ways.
Montrose had moved into Susquehanna territory for the third time in the second half when Taylor Smith broke through a hole on the right side on third-and-three from the 40.
Dorunda met Smith head-on and shoulder high, taking the Montrose ballcarrier off his feet on impact and pancaking him to the ground.
"That was the best hit I've ever had," Dorunda said. "The defensive line opened it all up. They took on all the blockers and it was just me and him.
"I hit him as hard as I could."
When the chains were brought out, the Meteors were less than a foot short of the first down.
"That was a helluva play; a helluva hit," Bagnall said. "That's the type of thing we have to do."
Jenkins' earlier control of the middle of the line may have led to what came next. The Meteors decided against a quarterback sneak or other run up the gut on fourth-and-inches.
When Dominick Lucenti rolled out on a bootleg, Ott fired in from his defensive end spot to immediately destroy the play. Ott threw Lucenti down for a seven-yard loss and Montrose never saw the ball again.
"I didn't think they were going to throw," Ott said. "I was thinking quarterback sneak and took an inside blitz."
Ott maintained enough of an outside angle to keep Lucenti from ever having a chance to turn the corner.
Susquehanna then ran the final 6:33 off the clock, moving to the Montrose 5 before kneeling on the ball on the final play.
Dorunda converted two fourth-down situations with runs of six and 12 yards to keep the drive moving.
The Sabers had four of their five second-half first downs in the closing drive.
Otherwise, the second half was about defense.
Jenkins broke into the backfield to force a six-yard loss. That play combined with a penalty to stop Montrose's first possession.
The Meteors converted two third-down situations to reach the Sabers 9 on the next possession. Dennis Moore ran eight yards for one conversion and Lucenti hit Smith with a pass that turned into a 30-yard gain for the other.
Working from inside the 10, the Sabers drove the Meteors back then took the ball away.
Taylor blitzed and caught Smith on a pitch to throw him for an eight-yard loss on first down.
Jenkins penetrated to break up an inside reverse to Moore for a three-yard loss on the next play.
Ott pressured from the outside and hit Lucenti's arm as he tried to throw on a third-down rollout.
Lucenti then scrambled on fourth down, only to be caught by Ott, who stripped the ball away and recovered the fumble.
"They were a tough team," Ott said. "We just held our ground and did what we had to do.
"We played as a team."
It was hard to tell at the time, but the first big stop by the Sabers was when they shut down a run for a two-point conversion attempt after the Meteors opened the scoring with 6:09 left in the half.
Smith went 18 yards to complete a 75-yard drive in which he carried five times for 34 yards. Moore started the drive with a 15-yard run.
Susquehanna also started the ensuing drive with a 15-yard gain.
A roughing the passer penalty against Montrose got the drive started. Dorunda ran 39 yards to the Meteors 14 on the next play and eventually scored on a one-yard run with 4:16 left in the half.
Armonso Vevenzio kicked the deciding extra point.
Montrose (0-2) used a balanced attack to rush for 202 yards. Moore was 8-for-68, Smith was 14-for-51, Jared Fowler was 13-for-48 and Lucenti was 13-for-35.
WEEK IN REVIEW
There is no question that Rich Thompson would have liked to produce more at the plate in this, his sixth, season as a professional baseball player.
Thompson showed once again, however, that there are few players anywhere in baseball who can run the bases like he does.
The 26-year-old Montrose graduate shared the Class AA Eastern League lead in stolen bases despite playing in the International League for the first 5 1/2 weeks of the season.
Thompson tied teammate Rajai Davis with 45 stolen bases, but clearly was the better base stealer. Thompson got his steals in 94 games and was caught just six times. Davis got his steals in 123 games and was caught nine times.
In fact, Thompson compares very favorably with every one of the EL's other players who ranked in the top 10 in stolen bases.
Thompson got on base by hit or walk just 119 times, but made up for it by stealing almost every time there was an open base.
Every other player in the top 10 had at least 108 games, got on base by hit or walk at least 145 times and was caught at least seven times. The average player in the top 10 played in 129 games, got on base 184 times and was caught stealing 11 times.
Thompson had 7 1/2 steals for each time he got caught. The rest of the top 10 managed just three steals for each time they got caught.
Thompson's efforts helped Altoona finish second in the South Division and qualify for the Eastern League playoffs against division champion Akron.
His final regular-season totals included 58 runs, 89 hits, 11 doubles, five triples, three homers, 30 RBIs, 30 walks and 60 strikeouts at Altoona. He was tied for 14th in the league in triples. In his 29 games with Class AAA Indianapolis, Thompson had nine runs, 19 hits, one double, two triples, one homer, three RBIs, nine walks, 12 strikeouts and was 13-for-15 stealing bases.
By going a combined 58-for-66 this season, Thompson is now 263-for-326 (80.7 percent) stealing bases in his six-year career.
"I want to be an everyday player in the majors, but to do that I've got to have more consistent at-bats and show I can get on base all the time," Thompson said in an interview for AltoonaCurve.com. "Up until this year, I thought I did a pretty good job of that. But this year I've struggled more than I have in the past."
Thompson batted .318 in the five-game playoff series as the Curve lost thee games to two to Akron. He had two hits in three of the five games. He also doubled twice, stole a base and sacrificed once.
In professional football, Montrose graduate Chris Snee opened his second season as the starting right guard for the New York Giants.
Snee helped the Giants rush for 121 yards in a 42-19 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
In high school golf, Montrose knocked off two of the other unbeatens in the Lackawanna League Northern Division to trim the list of perfect records to three going into its match with Forest City Monday. Forest City and Wallenpaupack are the other teams that survived the week with perfect records.
The Meteors shut out Carbondale, 9-0, and pulled out a series of close matches to hand Susquehanna (7-2) and Honesdale (5 1/2-3 1/2) their first defeats.
"I'm very proud of the way the week went," Montrose coach Mike Zuba said. "I'm really impressed with what we're doing.
"We should be rebuilding, but our seniors are showing leadership and our young guys are really coming along."
Seniors Dan Stranburg and Jeff Evans were joined in the starting lineup by three sophomores and a freshman for all three wins last week.
Evans shared medalist honors with Susquehanna's Craig Soden with a 1-over-par, 35 at Lake Lorain.
Stranburg and Evans won both singles and better-ball to take all three points in the first foursome. Chris Maxey won his singles match and teamed with Jonathan Lodge for a better-ball win.
Montrose did not take control until the eighth hole when the Meteors put themselves in position to win three of the four matches that were decided on the final hole.
Soden and Billy McHale won points for Susquehanna.
"Susquehanna is very strong," Zuba said. "They have a lot of good young players.
"They're going to be a team to reckon with in the very near future."
Montrose had four points wrapped up after six holes against Honesdale, but needed to get one more point to clinch the win.
Sophomore Devlin Conrad, who already had his singles point won, got up-and-down on 7 to secure the clinching better-ball point. His partner, freshman Dylan Reed, then split the final four holes to pick up another half point in singles.
Maxey won his singles point and again teamed with Lodge for the better-ball point when he got a par on 7 to clinch that match.
Stranburg clinched his singles point early.
In girls' tennis, Montrose swept Riverside, 5-0.
Sarah Golis, at number-one singles, and the number-two doubles team of Amanda Lass-Brianna Gieski won their matches, 6-0, 6-0. In all, the Meteors lost just 10 games in 10 sets.
In girls' soccer, Montrose opened the season with two impressive non-league wins.
Amber Lattner scored a hat trick in a 3-0 win over West Scranton. Brittany Ely and Maggie McNamara had assists.
Freshman Chelsea Lunger then scored with 25 seconds into the second overtime Saturday off a pass from Autumn Ely, another freshman, to beat Scranton Prep, 1-0.
Caitlin Ely made 10 saves in the her second shutout.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The flood damage in New Orleans led to an extra home game and an extra Monday night appearance for Snee and his New York Giants teammates. The game has been moved from Sunday in New Orleans to Monday at 8 p.m. in New York.
Lackawanna League boys' golfers will try to qualify for spots in the District 2 individual tournament when they get together at Scranton Municipal Golf Course September 20 at 8 a.m.
Montrose and Susquehanna are both home in Lackawanna Football Conference crossovers this week.
The Meteors (0-2) will play Old Forge (1-1) Friday night. The Sabers (1-1) will host Division II favorite Scranton Prep (2-0) Saturday.
Our high school football predictions for the second week were 10-3 (76.9 percent), making our season record 18-8 (69.2 percent).
Predictions for this week's game, with winners in CAPS: MONTROSE 22, Old Forge 16; SCRANTON PREP 12, Susquehanna 0; VALLEY VIEW 20, Honesdale 15; WEST SCRANTON 23, North Pocono 19; DELAWARE VALLEY 30, Wallenpaupack 22; CARBONDALE 26, Mid Valley 24; DUNMORE 31, Riverside 28; LAKELAND 28, Lackawanna Trail 12; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 38, Scranton 35; BISHOP O'HARA 45, Western Wayne 6.
All Roush Teams Are In The Chase
Richmond, VA – Kurt Busch, driving the No. 97 Roush Racing Ford won Saturday’s Chevy Rock & Roll, finishing ahead of his teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, who were second and third. But most of the attention was focused on the final top-10 drivers that had earned a berth in this year’s Nextel Cup Chase For the Championship.
The 1-2-3 Roush Racing finish Saturday night assured Roush of having half the 10-man Chase field.
Mark Martin, who came with Roush to the Cup series in 1988, had already clinched a place in the top 10 - along with Busch and Biffle - before the race. But, he came back from two laps down Saturday after a flat tire to finish on the lead lap, 13th overall.
Carl Edwards finished 21st in the race and nailed down eighth place in the points, just ahead of Matt Kenseth, in his first full season in Cup.
"I'm really excited about taking this group of five to the final 10 races," Roush said. "I expected to come out tonight with three cars in the top 10. I was hoping for four.”
For the second year in a row, Ryan Newman wound up 10th to start the Chase, cruising to a 12th-place finish at Richmond after Jamie McMurray's wreck.
And also for the second consecutive year, McMurray did not make the Chase.
McMurray entered Richmond with a one-point advantage over Ryan Newman but was not able to hold off Newman’s No. 12. After being involved in a wreck, McMurray finished 40th.
"You have 25 other races to try to make it into [the Chase]," McMurray said, "And we just didn't run well enough in those. I could see Ryan ahead of me all night and we had to beat him; we just couldn't get there."
Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon fell from Chase contention after hitting the wall on Lap 211 of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on Saturday night.
Earnhardt Jr. already was out of the Chase picture after finishing 38th at California one week ago.
“My car was like it was possessed after that crash,” said Earnhardt. “It had a mind of its own and it was drivin’ where it wanted. We were never better than we ran.”
Gordon, NASCAR’s four-time series champion faltered again after brushing the wall. His 30th-place finish will assure him his worst points finish since his rookie year.
‘I’m done,” said Gordon. “It was a disappointing night, along with a disappointing season. The bottom line is we’ve got a lot of work to do for next season.”
Starting lineup for this year’s Nextel Cup Chase For the Championship: 1. Stewart-5050, 2. Biffle-5045, 3. R. Wallace-5040, 4. Johnson-5035, 5. Busch-5030, 6. Martin-5025, 7. Mayfield-5020, 8. Edwards-5015, 9. Kenseth-5010, 10. Newman-5005.
The next 10 drivers who did not make the chase: 11. Sadler-2989, 12. J. Gordon-2972, 13. McMurray-2078, 14. Harvick-2937, 15. Nemechek-2879, 16. Jarrett-2858, 17. Earnhardt Jr.-2839, 18. Vickers-2807, 19. Kyle Busch-2748, 20. Kahne-2739.
NASCAR’S Scoring System For The Chase – Following the Richmond race, the top-10 drivers were broken out for the 10-race Nextel Cup Chase For the Championship.
The leader received 5,050 points, with each subsequent driver in the Chase also having their points reset, in increments of five-point drops for each position.
The driver who finishes the season in 11th place will win $250,000, plus be allowed to attend the year-end banquet in New York City.
FROM THE PITS
“For 20-something years in my life, it's been racing, God and family. I've gotten back to God, family and racing,” said Robbie Loomis, crew chief on Jeff Gordon’s No. 24.
"I know that I am getting ready for a change. We have been preparing for that for a year, and it could be within Hendrick Motorsports and it might be something completely different."
Loomis doesn't know what he'll do next season, but he does know he'll do something other than serve as crew chief for four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon.
Expect Tony Eury Jr. to rejoin the Dale Earnhardt Jr. team in the near future.
“Yeah, we’ll make changes,” Dale Jr. said. “I really can’t talk about the changes we’re gonna make. I’m not gonna announce the changes this time, so y’all will just have to wait or ask somebody else.”
While Earnhardt would not go into detail about specific changes, Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports at Dale Earnhardt Inc., said that the team talked this week about making the widely anticipated move of putting Eury Jr., back with the No. 8 team.
"We have announced everything internally, and I think externally it will come very shortly” said Gilmore. “We don't really feel like we need to take away from anybody up here with the Chase and let everything focus toward that. Maybe we'll go to Loudon and announce our plans there."
Eury Jr. was car chief for Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 8 Chevrolets in 2004, when Earnhardt Jr. won six races and made the Chase for the Nextel Cup. He's currently crew chief for Michael Waltrip's No. 15 Chevrolets.
Mark Martin said it looks more certain every day he will stay in Roush Racing's No. 6 Ford in the Nextel Cup Series next season and delay his full-time move to the Craftsman Truck Series.
"I've had to change my plans," Martin said. "I was full steam ahead. My first truck is complete and we're fixing to go test with it.
"There's a lot of things up in the air. I was going to do a limited Busch schedule and a full Truck schedule. Now, I'm trying to see if I can get back out of the Busch thing."
"I told (Roush officials) 'I can't do 10 Busch races, seven Truck races and (a full Cup schedule). I already told y'all I'm trying to slow down, not speed up,’” Martin said.
Martin, who had planned to retire from his Cup ride at the end of 2005, said he probably would stay on with Roush until Jamie McMurray takes over the ride in 2007.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Truex-3956, 2. Bowyer-3862, 3. Sorenson-3645, 4. Edwards-3595, 5. K. Wallace-3348, 6. Hamlin-3346, 7. Menard-3196, 8. D. Green-3126, 9. Stremme-3088, 10. Keller-3018.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Setzer-2581, 2. Musgrave-2532, 3. Hornaday-2388, 4. Skinner-2376, 5. Spencer-2373, 6. Hamilton-2349, 7. T. Bodine-2306, 8. Reutimann-2301, 9. Crafton-2290, 10. Starr-2218.
The Craftsman Trucks and Cup cars will be at Loudon, NH, while the Busch teams have an off weekend.
Saturday, September 17, Craftsman Trucks New Hampshire 200, race 19 of 25, 200 laps/211 miles, 3 p.m. ; TV: Speed Channel.
Sunday, Sept. 18, Nextel Cup Sylvania 300, race 27 of 36, 300 laps/317 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: TNT.
Racing Trivia Question: Does Craftsman Truck Series driver Mike Skinner have any NASCAR Winston Cup wins?
Last Week’s Question: When the points are readjusted after Richmond, for the final 10 races of the season, how many points will the leader receive? Answer. The points leader after Richmond will have 5050 points.
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.
Jocelyn Dearborn had a hard time making up her mind a year ago.
"Last year, my heart was split into two," Dearborn, a Blue Ridge junior, said. "I was loving basketball and loving softball."
Progress on the softball field helped Dearborn determine which sport would receive her concentration.
"This summer, I had colleges looking at me playing softball," said Dearborn, who has realized that she is more of a college prospect as a third baseman than she is on the basketball court.
Dearborn was part of a team that qualified for an Amateur Softball Association national tournament for the fifth straight summer. Her strong finish with the Conklin Raiders makes Dearborn the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
"We have tournaments all through the fall and I train in the winter," Dearborn said. "A lot of hard work is put in to it. I'm looking to be a Division I player.
"Any extra time goes into softball."
Dearborn will continue to play basketball. She was a part-time starter for Blue Ridge as a freshman and full-time starter as a sophomore.
There is still time for pick-up games with friends, but not time for team play except for during the school season in the winter.
Summer is the time when Dearborn strives for the highest softball competition she can find. She has already played on one high school state championship team and been to another state tournament as Blue Ridge's third baseman.
Although Dearborn remains eligible for 16-and-under play, she moved up to 18-and-under to play for the Raiders this season.
"When I started, I was so nervous and I did real poorly," Dearborn said. "In school ball for Blue Ridge, I was hitting real well. In summer ball, I froze in the first half of the season."
Dearborn went from hitting .180 in the first half to .350 in the second half while batting third for the Raiders.
"She's a great talent," Raiders coach Dale Cook said. "She's an outstanding third baseman who made some unbelievable plays."
Jocelyn is the daughter of Mark and Corina Dearborn of New Milford.
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