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Montrose hopes to continue the progressive steps taken a year ago, while Susquehanna will try to change courses after falling back again in 2006.
The Meteors and Sabers have both completed two scrimmages and are preparing for weekend football openers against Wilkes-Barre schools.
Montrose went 5-6 and received the consolation prize of a trip to the Eastern Conference playoffs in Jack Keihl's first season as coach.
After breaking a school-record losing streak and winning four games in 2005, Susquehanna was plagued by a series of injuries while slipping back to 1-9 a year ago.
"We're content, but not happy," Keihl said when discussing the results of his first season. "We definitely made some strides over the year before, but we had a couple opportunities that we did not capitalize on."
Both county teams are looking at making changes to their offensive style.
"We'd still like to be able to open the offense up," Keihl said. "We thought we would last year, but it became apparent that it wasn't going to happen."
Rob Volk, a 6-foot-3 sophomore quarterback, will get the chance to show that he can throw the ball. The Meteors already have an established tailback in Jared Fowler, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards combined in the previous two seasons.
Susquehanna also has experienced running threats in Julian Andujar and C.J. Felter. Cody Scepaniak, a 6-foot-4 junior who played almost half of last season when Anthony Dorunda was hurt, will be in control of a new-look option attack.
Coach Dick Bagnall has switched the Sabers offense from a veer to a spread option that uses double slots and motion.
"The split back option didn't fit us this year," Bagnall said. "I had gone to Navy's clinics the last few years and liked their offense. It's a pure mirror option."
Guard/linebacker D.J. Brown is a returning Lackawanna Football Conference Division III all-star for the Meteors.
Two-way tackle Kyle Chapel, linebacker David Colvin, flanker/cornerback Kyle Bonnice, Fowler and nose guard Levi Tiffany are the other returning starters.
Fowler moves from flanker to tailback, a position he shared as a sophomore. Bonnice moves from split end to flanker.
Tiffany takes over at fullback.
Miles Fisher is the center with Brown and Mike O'Malley at guards and Chapel and Tony Bistocchi at tackles. Colvin is the tight end and Andy Burgh is the split end.
The Meteors return Brown, the leading tackler, and Colvin at linebackers.
Tiffany and Chapel are back in the line with tackle Tyler Kernan and ends Fisher and O'Malley.
Bonnice and Burgh are the cornerbacks, Jamie Hoffman is the strong safety and either James Kane or Dalton Smith will be at free safety.
"I felt we had a real nice camp, but both scrimmages seemed a little lackadaisical," Keihl said. "Athlete-wise, we're OK. We need that intense mentality.
"At the skill positions, I'm confident, but up front, we're lacking depth. That may have been part of our problem, as the (second) scrimmage wore on, it was brutally hot."
Josh Jenkins, a division all-star offensive guard and the heart of the defensive line at nose guard, returns to lead the Sabers.
Guard/linebacker Robert Dorunda, fullback/defensive end Julian Andujar, halfback/linebacker C.J. Felter and quarterback/cornerback Scepaniak also return.
Stephen Andujar or Nick Felter, the younger brothers of the other two running backs, will take over the remaining spot in the backfield.
Justin Ross is at center, between Jenkins and Dorunda. The two tackle positions are still up in the air between Brad Allen, Carlos Cuevas, Tim Gall and freshman Rob Hubal.
Jordan Aldrich and Brad Weaver are the receivers.
The Sabers will alternate between four- and five-man fronts defensively.
Jenkins will be in the middle of a five-man line or at one of the tackles in a four-man line.
Hubal, Gall and Ross are other possibilities at tackle.
Cuevas and Julian Andujar are the ends.
Dorunda and Allen are linebackers.
C.J. Felter will be the third linebacker, when needed, or a defensive back.
Scepaniak, Weaver and Nick Felter are in the secondary, which will also include Stephen Andujar at times.
Bagnall said he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of success the team had in its two scrimmages.
"Defensively, we're undersized," Bagnall said. "That could come back to hurt us. Everyone will be bigger than we are."
The Sabers have just five seniors on the roster, but four of them – Jenkins, Justin Ross, Chris Felter and Julian Andujar – will be in the starting lineup.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Jon Lodge finished fourth and Montrose teammate Nick Newell was tied for fifth during the rain-shortened Jackman Memorial High School Golf Tournament at Scranton Municipal.
Because of a shot-gun start, players did not play the same holes. Tournament placing was determined based on relation to par for nine holes.
Lodge was plus-3 in tough conditions while Newell was plus-4 to lead the Meteors to a fourth-place finish in the 21-team event.
Susquehanna was 11th, Forest City was tied for 12th and Mountain View was 21st.
Dusty Bartron was plus-6 to lead the Sabers.
In arena football, the Tulsa Talons defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers, 73-66, in arenacup8, the arenafootball2 league championship game.
The game was the highest-scoring final in af2 history.
Jeff Hughley led Tulsa to the win, catching nine passes for 143 yards and returning seven kickoffs for 203 yards.
League MVP Ryan Vena threw a championship game record seven touchdown passes for the Pioneers.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Montrose opens the football season Friday night at Hanover Area. Susquehanna is home Saturday against Wilkes-Barre GAR.
Again this season, we will predict the outcome of all high school games involving Lackawanna Football Conference teams. Our record was 100-27 (78.7 percent) last season.
This week's predictions with home team in CAPS: Montrose 22, HANOVER AREA 21; Wilkes-Barre GAR 24, SUSQUEHANNA 12; DELAWARE VALLEY 38, East Stroudsburg North 21; HONESDALE 35, Western Wayne 7; RIVERSIDE 21, North Pocono 20; Wyoming Valley West 20, SCRANTON 13; Lakeland 21, VALLEY VIEW 10; Pocono Mountain West 14, WALLENPAUPACK 12; Dunmore 33, OLD FORGE 14; Lackawanna Trail 27, MID VALLEY 13; Carbondale 20, ATHENS 15; Sayre 24, HOLY CROSS 21; Hazleton Area 14, ABINGTON HEIGHTS 12; West Scranton 30, SCRANTON PREP 12.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
EDWARDS FLIPS AT BRISTOL, BRISTOL, TN – For the second time this season, Carl Edwards has been able to back-flip off his No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford. Traditionally, Edwards does a flip after winning a race, and his latest win came Saturday night in the Nextel Cup Sharpie 500.
Carl Edwards celebrates Saturday's Bristol win.
It was his second win of the season and with the victory, Edwards clinched a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.
“We’re back,” said Edwards. “This is the biggest win of my career. It means the world to win this race.”
Kasey Kahne led 305 laps of the 500-lap race before Edwards claimed the lead for the final time, but Edwards led the final 130 laps to get his second victory of the season and his first in the Car of Tomorrow. Edwards beat Kahne to the finish line by 1.405 seconds to win the sixth race of his Cup career and the first for Ford with the COT.
Edwards took the lead for good on Lap 371, beating Kasey Kahne out of the pits under a caution after David Ragan spun in Turn 4. That's the way the top two cars ran the rest of the race, as Edwards was as dominant in the late stages of the race as Kahne had been in the early going.
Clint Bowyer ran third, followed by Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Bobby Labonte, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle completed the top-10.
Ricky Rudd's spin in Turn 1 brought out the eighth caution of the race on Lap 451. The cars of Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, David Gilliland and Juan Pablo Montoya suffered varying degrees of damage in the ensuing wreck. The crash knocked Kenseth out of the race, but the Roush Fenway driver nevertheless clinched a berth in the Chase with his 39th-place finish.
The race for the 12th and final Chase spot didn't change, as Kurt Busch is still holding down the 12th and final position with two races to go.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a strong run, but gained only five points and is 158 points back of Busch.
“I want to win. If I can't make the Chase, I want to win a race,” Earnhardt said. “When we don't make [the Chase] everybody makes a big deal over it – they talk about it pre-race and talk about it post-race. It's a bummer when you see that and watch that. You're just trying to let it go under the radar when you can't get it done.”
Ryan Newman is the 14th driver in the standings, 175 points out of 12th.
Top 10 Race For the Chase contenders with two races remaining: 1. J. Gordon-3582, 2. Stewart-3233, 3. Hamlin-3229, 4. Kenseth-3163, 5. Edwards-3160, 6. Johnson-3059, 7. J. Burton-3054, 8. Kyle Busch-3024, 9. Bowyer-2944, 10. Harvick-2888.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Edwards-3743, 2. Reutimann-3053, 3. Harvick-3028, 4. Leffler-2921, 5. Ragan-2841, 6. Hamilton Jr.-2704, 7. Leicht-2615, 8. Biffle-2585, 9. Ambrose-2553, 10. M. Wallace-2477.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Skinner-2681, 2. Hornaday-2587, 3. Kvapil-2425, 4. T. Bodine-2346, 5. Crawford-2196, 6. Benson-2159, 7. Sprague-2027, 8. Musgrave-1957, 9. Crafton-1949, 10. Darnell-1875.
Kurt Busch won last Tuesday’s rain delayed 3M Performance Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway ahead of Martin Truex, Jr.
Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte, and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-10 finishers.
RACING ON TV: MIX OF GOOD AND BAD – Is the sport of NASCAR racing growing, standing still, or going backwards?
Last week we wrote about the drop in NASCAR television ratings. This week we are presenting two of the many e-mails we received.
The first is from a woman in Pennsylvania, while the second is from a male reader in Maryland.
Each has a different reason for not being fired up over the current condition of the sport. You be the judge.
“I get so tired of hearing the commentators talking about the contenders for the Chase, and how they're doing for the entire race,” said J. P. of Susquehanna, PA. “There's thirty other drivers in it, but you don't hear much about them unless they're in an accident.
“I only watch to see if someone other than the contenders wins the race. Usually, halfway through I fall asleep for a short time. My greatest dream is to see Kenny Wallace, Ken Schrader, Michael Waltrip, John Andretti or any driver who's usually at the rear of the field win a Cup race this year.
“I do watch the Truck races all the time. It's just a lot more interesting and exciting. All in all, maybe someone should say something to the commentators about the way they present the race to the TV audience. Who knows, it might help the ratings, as I know NASCAR isn't going to change the Chase.”
Here is the response from Richard in Maryland.
“I am a retired UAW member for 36 years, and visited Dover and Richmond until in the 70's when Dodge pulled out of racing. Then again in 2000, Dodge got back into racing, I came back too. Excited, nail-biting and glued-to-the-TV-set fan. Then Waltrip begins to promote Toyota and drops GM like a hot potato and jumps ship for them. Then he gets a campaign to hire other drivers to jump with him.
“I feel this is one of the reasons many fans are boycotting racing.
“Where is the loyalty? Remember "baseball, hotdogs and Chevy"... not any more.
“There are still some of the good boys left. Maybe when the war babies are gone and the yuppies make all the decisions, it won't matter. Now your argument is, Toyota is made in America. Yes, but the revenue doesn’t stay here. Let the economy drop here, see their loyalty to the US. Then you will hear some real crying.”
The overall concern of most fans seemed to be the lack of TV coverage of those drivers outside the top-12 Chase format and the number of commercials.
The Chase was designed to help bolster interest in the sport after the NFL season starts, but the results have been mixed.
NASCAR and television officials constantly talk about how the sport has grown and present a glowing picture of progress.
On one hand, fans are still flocking to the tracks, but viewers at home are finding something else to watch.
Officials still don’t have an answer for the drop in television ratings. And they are on the defensive when they try to sum up what is happening.
E-mail us your comments, and we will send you a photo of your favorite driver.
THIS WEEK IN RACING
The Nextel Cup and Busch teams travel west to race at the 2-mile Fontana, CA facility, while the Craftsman Trucks are at the 1.25-mile Gateway, IL track.
Saturday, September 1, Craftsman Trucks Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200, race 17 of 25,160 laps, 5 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series Camping World 300, race 27 of 35, 150 laps, 9:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, September 2, Nextel Cup Sharp Aquos 500, race 25 of 36, 250 laps, 7 p.m. (EST); TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Which NASCAR racing facility has the largest track?
Last Week’s Question: Kevin Harvick has several Busch and Craftsman Trucks teams, but who does he race for in the Nextel Cup? Answer: Harvick drives the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 20, Christina Caucci (pictured) passed the United States Figure Skating Association Senior Ladies Freestyle Figure Skating Test to be awarded her third gold medal (Technical Moves, Ice Dance and now Freestyle) from the USFSA. This permits Christina to compete in the Senior Ladies Division at all qualifying competitions sanctioned by the USFSA in this 2007-08 season. She may now compete with U.S. national and Olympic medalists.
Christina is a senor at Hancock Central High School, and is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Douglas Caucci, Orson, PA.
Cecilia Griffin (pictured) of Little Meadows took the Women's Youth 14 and Under Gold Medal in Foil Fencing at the Keystone Games on Saturday, July 28. She finished the day in second place overall in the mixed gender event. On Sunday, she competed in the mixed Under 20 event and was awarded the Women's Silver Medal.
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