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The Montrose Meteors salvaged a tough year with a strong finish in 2007 and will be looking to carry momentum from that finish into the start of the 2008 football season.
“We’re looking at a group heavily loaded with seniors, some with experience, some without,” Meteors coach Jack Keihl said during the team's first week of practice. “They’ve all worked hard in the last year. Athlete-wise we’re in good shape. Linemen-wise we’re in good shape.
“Our depth is not the greatest.”
The Meteors saved their best two games for last a year ago. They won two straight to finish 3-7. The last two games – a 21-15 win over Holy Cross and a 24-18 victory over Susquehanna – represented both the two highest scoring games and the two lowest points allowed totals of the season for Montrose.
This year, the Meteors will open at home August 29 against Susquehanna.
Rob Volk returns at quarterback to try to keep building the offense.
Dan Staats is back with some experience at fullback.
The Meteors have two possible tailbacks – senior Mike Rihl and junior Dalton Smith – and could end up using both.
“Dalton is the outside speed type of runner,” Keihl said. “Rihl is more of the Montrose-style tailback, running the ball tackle-to-tackle.”
Smith gained some experience at the position a year ago.
Kyle Bonnice returns at flanker.
Bryan Castrogiavanni is the likely starter at center. Mike O’Malley is back at one guard and Levi Tiffany moves from fullback to fill the other guard spot.
Tony Bistocchi, who started three games before suffering a knee injury last season, is one tackle. Ben Harasymczuk is the other.
Travis Poirier or Brian Davis could be at tight end.
Andy Burgh, a starter last year, and Cody DeBoer, who saw some playing time, are both available at split end.
After trying it at times last year, the Meteors are switching to a 4-3 defense.
Tiffany, a three-year starter, and Bistocchi will be the tackles.
O’Malley, a returning starter, and Davis are the ends.
Staats, who played both end and linebacker last year, will anchor the defense from the middle linebacker position.
Poirier and sophomore Ethan Jones are the outside linebackers.
Burgh, DeBoer and Smith all have some starting experience at cornerback and will fill those two spots.
Bonnice is back at safety. Rihl could be the other safety, but Logan Carlton is also expected to see time at safety.
The Meteors face the challenge of stepping up from Division III to Division II of the Lackawanna Football Conference.
“It’s not something we can do a whole lot about,” Keihl said. “It will be tough playing perennial powers week in and week out.
“We play Scranton Prep, Dunmore, Valley View, North Pocono, Riverside and Lakeland the last six games of the year.”
All but the North Pocono game are part of the division schedule. The opponents outside the division are North Pocono, Susquehanna, Old Forge and Lackawanna Trail.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, a Nationwide Tour golf event, is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at Elmhurst Country Club in Moscow.
The tournament moves from Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic.
Elmhurst will play at 6,781 yards and par 70 for the tournament.
The total purse will be $525,000, including $94,500 for the winner.
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 Wins Twice At Michigan, Brooklyn, MI – Carl Edwards celebrated his 29th birthday this past weekend by winning both NASCAR races at Michigan.
Carl Edwards got two wins at Michigan.
First, he won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, then on Sunday, he beat Kyle Busch in the Sprint Cup 3M Performance 400.
“The team did an unbelievable job of getting me off pit road,” said Edwards. “We’re winning races, we’re gearing up for the Chase, and I’m feeling stronger than ever.”
Kyle Busch was leading the race when a caution came out with 21 laps to go in the 200-lap race. Most of the lead lap cars pitted. Edwards, who had been running second, was able to beat Busch out of the pits.
Several cars had stayed on the track, including Edwards’ teammate David Ragan, but it only took Edwards one lap to regain the lead. There were two more cautions, but each time Edwards was able to pull away from Busch for his fifth Cup win of the season.
“I pretty much didn’t have nothing for him (Edwards) on the restarts,” said Busch. “He was just able to take off on those restarts and get a heck of a run through turns one and two. Once he got that gap it was just over.”
David Ragan, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-10 finishers.
The bubble may be about to burst for several drivers in the top-12 with just three races to go before the Chase begins.
Jimmie Johnson’s car bounced off Tony Stewart’s No. 20 early into the race and he pushed his teammate, Jeff Gordon into the wall. Gordon’s team spent 61 laps trying to repair his No. 24, but he still finished 42nd. He dropped from 6th to 9th in points.
In addition to bumping into Stewart, Johnson got into another altercation as his car neared the finish line and he wound up in the infield grass. He finished 17th, but remains third in points.
Kasey Kahne lost an engine and dropped from 8th to 11th in the points.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a good car during the first half of the race, but he hit the outside wall with 16 laps remaining and finished 23rd. He remains in fourth.
Denny Hamlin had an engine let go in his No. 11 Toyota, causing him to drop three spots from 9th to 12th.
Top 10 Chase contenders with three to go: 1. Kyle Busch-3429, 2. Edwards-3207, 3. Johnson-3127, 4. Earnhardt-3084, 5. Burton-3080, 6. Stewart-2871, 7. Biffle-2854, 8. Harvick-2812, 9. J. Gordon-2791, 10. Kenseth-2783.
Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders after 25 of 35: 1. Bowyer-3582, 2. Edwards-3469, 3. Keselowski-3450, 4. Bliss-3223, 5. Reutimann-3219, 6. Ragan-3202, 7. Kyle Busch-3003, 8. M. Wallace-2963, 9. Leffler-2926, 10. Ambrose-2903.
Gibbs Nationwide Teams Caught Cheating – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide Series teams will be penalized for using magnets in an attempt to manipulate the throttle so NASCAR would not get a true horsepower reading when putting their cars on the chassis dynamometer following the Carfax 250 at Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Saturday night.
Both the No. 18 and No. 20 teams face penalties for what was a blatant attempt to interfere with the inspection process. NASCAR has confiscated the engines and it will determine whether to test them further, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Sunday morning.
NASCAR put 10 cars on the chassis dyno to test horsepower following the race at Michigan on Saturday. The No. 18 and 20 cars were found to have magnets stuck to the bottom of their accelerators, which in effect, would not allow the engines to produce the full amount of horsepower.
“The tampering had no impact on the outcome of the race,” Hunter said. “Tony Stewart drove the No. 20 to third place in the race, while Joey Logano drove the No. 18 to seventh place. The No. 20 team, which has used several drivers this year, currently leads the owner standings by 318 points over the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing team.
“What they did was not in effect during the race. They didn’t have an illegal part or engine during the race. They tried to do something involving a magnet so that we wouldn’t get a true reading on the dyno.”
Richard Childress had this to say, “I’ll say it’s damn blatant. I’m surprised they got caught. When people get an advantage, they don’t want to give it up and sometimes they go to extremes to keep from giving up an advantage, and that’s just what they did.”
Joe Gibbs issued the following statement after Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. “If this alleged incident proves true, it goes against everything we stand for as an organization.
“We will take full responsibility and accept any penalties NASCAR levies against us. We will also investigate internally how this incident took place and who was involved and make whatever decisions are necessary to ensure that this kind of situation never happens again.
“The expectations we set for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing begins with me, and I personally apologize to NASCAR, our partners and our fans for the negative light this situation has cast upon all of us.”
Newman Signs With Stewart’s Team – Stewart-Haas Racing has signed Ryan Newman to a multi-year contract to drive the team’s No. 4 Chevrolet beginning with the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Newman, winner of 13 Cup races, including this year’s Daytona 500, will be a teammate to Tony Stewart, the two-time Sprint Cup champion who will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2009.
The announcement pairs two Indiana natives and two former United States Auto Club (USAC) champions under one roof.
Newman is from South Bend, Ind., and was the 1999 USAC Silver Crown Series national champion. Stewart is from Columbus, Ind., and a four-time USAC champion, as he won the 1994 USAC National Midget championship before securing the USAC “Triple Crown” in 1995, where he won the National Midget, Sprint Car and Silver Crown titles in a single season – the first driver to do so.
Darrell Waltrip, The Owensboro Orator – Owensboro, KY driver Darrell Waltrip joined the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National tour full time in 1971 and actively campaigned for the Rookie of the Year award. Despite grabbing a significant number of headlines, NASCAR selected Lennie Pond as its top rookie. Waltrip fired off several verbal comments aimed at NASCAR officials after their decision.
That was not the last time DW would lash out at NASCAR and the media.
In a short time, Waltrip gained the reputation of a very capable driver, but an individual who ruffled plenty of feathers. NASCAR racing in the early 1970s was ruled by a small and select number of established veterans, like David Pearson, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, and the Allison brothers. Waltrip had all the attributes to become a member of this select group, and he barged into prominence with his mouth running as fast as his race cars.
Waltrip dueled on and off the track with Yarborough, who nicknamed Waltrip "Jaws" after a crash at Darlington. He was scolded on occasion by Petty for aggressive maneuvers on the track. He sparred with rival team owners, too. M.C. Anderson, an energetic owner who at times spoke with an acid tongue, declared that no matter how good Waltrip was, Anderson would never consider hiring him as a driver. “I'd fire him quicker than a New York minute,” Anderson once said.
Waltrip also earned the wrath of trackside spectators, who responded with a chorus of boos when he was introduced before a race. The negative reaction bothered the flashy and articulate Waltrip. When he crashed at Charlotte one year, the huge throng cheered. In a radio interview that was played over the track public address system, Waltrip challenged his adversaries in the grandstands to “meet me in the Big K parking lot...and we'll duke it out.”
Over the years, Waltrip matured and became a championship-caliber driver. In 1979, he lost a battle for the Winston Cup Grand National championship. Leading by more than 200 points at midseason, many had conceded the title to Waltrip. But Richard Petty got his season in gear in the second half and passed Waltrip for the title in the season finale.
For the first six seasons of the 1980s, the tandem of driver Darrell Waltrip and car owner Junior Johnson was the most feared combination on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. The pair captured 43 victories and three championships during their tenure together.
During his Winston Cup career from 1972 to 2000, Waltrip won 84 races, fourth on the all-time list. After retiring as a driver, Waltrip joined FOX Sports as an analyst. Joining Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds in the broadcast booth, Waltrip is both entertaining and enlightening in his colorful commentary, much like he was as a racer.
Next Week: Jeff Gordon’s Team Needs Fixing.
All three of NASCAR’s major series are at the .534-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.
Wednesday, August 20: Craftsman Trucks O’Reilly 200, 7:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Friday, August 22: Nationwide Series Food City 250, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN.
Saturday, August 23: Sprint Cup Sharpie 500, 7 p.m. TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: What year did Greg Biffle win the Craftsman Truck Series championship?
Last Week’s Question: What year did NASCAR hold the first race at Bristol? Answer: It was 1961.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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