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Susquehanna football coach Dick Bagnall said his team made progress between its first and second preseason scrimmages.
The Sabers will be looking to continue that improvement as they prepare to open the season Friday night at rival Montrose.
“In our first scrimmage against Athens, which is a real good football team, we did move the football some, but our defense was lousy, especially in the secondary,” Bagnall said.
Saturday, against Wyalusing the Sabers had a different look.
“We were OK against Wyalusing,” Bagnall said. “There were a lot more plusses than minuses.
“We were a little better on defense, but we still have a lot of work to do there.”
One of the areas of improvement was at quarterback where Danny Kempa, a sophomore from Blue Ridge which co-sponsors the sport with Susquehanna, is trying to make the jump from Pee Wee football to varsity starter.
Bagnall said Kempa had trouble with some of his option reads in the first scrimmage.
“He was 100 percent better this time,” Bagnall said. “He’s getting a lot more confidence, calling audibles and making good decisions.”
While the Sabers rely on a newcomer to run the offense, they will have veteran starters at more than half the positions on both sides of the ball.
Senior fullback Steven Andujar has starting experience at running back while junior tailback Nick Felter has also seen a lot of playing time in the backfield. John Salinkas moves to tailback and is expected to see some action.
Sophomore Robert Hubal returns at center, while Robert Dorunda and Tim Gall are back at guard and Carlos Cuevas returns at tackle. Justin Johnson is likely to take over the other tackle spot.
Chris Kimble is new at tight end.
Juniors Marvin Green, Brad Weaver and Jordan Aldrich all have starting experience at wide receiver and are likely to keep filling the split end and flanker spots.
The defense will vary its look at times.
“We’ll probably run more 40 than 50 because of some of the teams we play with wide-open offenses,” Bagnall said.
Jared Coleman could be joined by Johnson at tackle, but Gall and sophomore Sean MacDonald will also see time as down linemen.
Returning starter Brad Allen will be one of the inside linebackers in a four-man front, but is likely to be a nose guard when the Sabers use five up front.
Cuevas and Kimble are back at ends.
Inside linebacker Dorunda and outside linebackers Andujar and Aldrich also return.
Weaver and Green have starting experience in the defensive backfield. They could be joined by Salinkas although Kempa could also see action there.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose finished seventh out of 21 teams at the Jackman Memorial High School Golf Tournament last week at Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
Peter Maxey shot 81 to lead the Meteors to a four-player total of 336. Jordan Smith was the tournament’s low freshman with an 88.
Forest City was 16th with a 371, Mountain View was 17th with a 379 and Susquehanna was last in the 21-team field with a 413.
Forest City’s Wade Malicky had the lowest score by a Susquehanna County player with a 78.
Eric Congdon led Mountain View with an 88 while Aaron Soden was low for Susquehanna with a 97.
Nicholas Reach of Scranton Prep shot a 4-under-par-68 to lead the Cavaliers to the team title.
In professional golf, Scott Piercy shot a 6-under-par, 64 Sunday to win the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, which was played at Elmhurst Country Club in Moscow for the first time.
Piercy, 29, from Las Vegas, was four shots behind going into the final round but finished at 13-under-par, 267 to win by two shots.
Cameron Percy and Brendon de Jonge tied for second.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Our high school football predictions begin with the start of the season Friday. Each game involving a Lackawanna Football Conference school will be predicted.
The first week predictions, with home teams in CAPS, are: MONTROSE 26, Susquehanna 20; LAKELAND 21, Lackawanna Trail 14; ATHENS 28, Carbondale 12; Abington Heights 14, HAZLETON AREA 10; Dunmore 45, MID VALLEY 14; RIVERSIDE 33, Old Forge 14; VALLEY VIEW 27, North Pocono 14; WEST SCRANTON 32, Scranton Prep 21; WYOMING VALLEY WEST 23, Scranton 7; Honesdale 38, WESTERN WAYNE 14; POCONO MOUNTAIN WEST 14, Wallenpaupack 12; and Delaware Valley 21, EAST STROUDSBURG NORTH 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 Uses Bump And Go At Bristol, Bristol, TN – Carl Edwards nudged Kyle Busch out of the way to take the lead with 31 laps left in Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The move angered Busch, who had led 415 of the 500 laps, and he ran into the side of Edwards’ No. 99 Ford on the cool-down lap to express his frustration. Edwards then retaliated by spinning Busch before heading to victory lane.
Carl Edwards picked up his sixth win of the season at Bristol.
“That was one of those deals where I couldn’t get by him,” said Edwards. “I had to ask myself, ‘Would he do that to me?’ And he has before, and that’s the way it goes.
“I just kind of ran into him. That’s what happened... I have a lot of respect for the guy, and he was real fast, but we can’t give up points when they’re right there for us to take.”
The fans loved it, and NASCAR’s newest rivalry is now in full force.
“They keep talking about rivalries – we might have one now,” Edwards continued.
NASCAR summoned Busch to the sanctioning body’s transporter after the race.
Busch said it made no difference that Edwards admitted bumping him to win the race.
“No, because he does that, and he’ll always come back and say he’s sorry,” said Busch, who finished second to Edwards for the second straight race. “He did it at Milwaukee, and he’s done it a few other times. It’s just his normal fashion. I tried to get him back, but I thought better of it and tried to pull down and pass him back. But I didn’t have a good enough car to stick.”
Kasey Kahne dropped out of the Chase contenders after a wreck relegated him to a 40th-place finish.
David Ragan’s 10th place finish allowed him to move up one spot in the points to 13th. He is now just 12 points behind Clint Bowyer, who is in 12th.
Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and David Ragan.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. passed some cars before the start line on the race’s initial start and he was assessed a pass through penalty, which put him a lap down.
Top 10 Chase contenders with two races to go before the Chase begins: 1. Kyle Busch-3609, 2. Edwards-3397, 3. Earnhardt-3193, 4. Johnson-3191, 5. Burton-3117, 6. Stewart-3013, 7. Biffle-2984, 8. Harvick-2972, 9. J. Gordon-2951, 10. Kenseth-2921.
Only the top 12 drivers will be in the Chase for the Championship, which includes the last ten races of the season. There are additional drivers that are mathematically eligible, but these 15 drivers are the only ones that have a realistic chance of making it.
Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders after 26 of 35: 1. Bowyer-3762, 2. Keselowski-3640, 3. Edwards-3521, 4. Reutimann-3361, 5. Bliss-3347, 6. Ragan-3290, 7. Kyle Busch-3149, 8. Leffler-3044, 9. M. Wallace-3021, 10. Ambrose-2964
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 16 of 25: 1. Benson-2426, 2. Hornaday-2307, 3. Crafton-2270, 4. Bodine-2187, 5. Skinner-2172, 6. Crawford-2165, 7. Darnell-2139, 8. Sprague-2073, 9. Cook-2046, 10. Setzer-1990.
Mears To Join Childress Racing – Richard Childress Racing named Casey Mears as driver of the team’s No. 07 Chevrolet with sponsorship from Jack Daniels next season, as Clint Bowyer will move to the organization's No. 33 car sponsored by General Mills.
Mears, who has spent the last two years in the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports, learned in June that he would be replaced by Mark Martin in that ride at the end of 2008.
Bowyer might have to qualify for the first five races next year on speed as his No. 33 team currently does not have owners’ points. Team owner Richard Childress said the team is confident Bowyer will not miss a race.
Gordon And Team Need A Fix – Jeff Gordon managed a fifth-place finish at Bristol, but his No. 24 team is struggling like never before. The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion finished a dismal 42nd last week at Michigan and dropped from sixth to ninth in Chase points.
But it wasn’t the first bad outing. Gordon and his group finished 29th in the Centurion Boats at The Glen. The race started with a lack of communication when he developed an issue with his radio, and ended with the team searching for the proper setup.
Gordon, who has four victories on the challenging road course, wasn't close to challenging for a win this time.
“We've lost that magic that we had at one time,” Gordon said. “We have absolutely missed our road course program. And we even went and tested and I thought we were going to be pretty good. We were good on our short runs in testing, but we just didn't make enough long runs and that's what we're going to have to work on.”
Maybe Gordon isn’t doing all that bad, but it just looks terrible in comparison to last year. At this point in 2007, Gordon was on top of the standings with four victories and a 344-point lead. After Michigan he is 638 points back and hasn't won a race.
“I don't want to be where we are in the points right now," Gordon said after the Michigan race, “but in some ways this is an easier position to be in, because we can go out there and run hard every weekend. We can take chances and do things that maybe get us our win.
“We've been stuck in the middle where we couldn't take a big risk – couldn't risk fuel mileage, couldn't risk putting two tires on, we had to stay with four tires. We couldn't get too risky with our setups. All that stuff.
“You're just trying to ride along there and not make mistakes, and now a mistake is made, and I'm just glad we're running good, finally.”
But the No. 24 team has had trouble putting the whole combination together.
The four-time champion and solid contender for this year's Chase, Gordon admitted a race like Sunday's is difficult to take.
“Oh, it's miserable,” he said. “It's about as frustrating as you can get as a team, as a driver. It's not any one person's fault. We're all in it together. We have some work to do. You know we had this same issue at the beginning of the Sonoma race, but we got some cautions to work on it. We didn't have the cautions to work on it early enough here and it bit us.”
He knows that his team must get better. But in some ways, he seems as puzzled by his position in the standings as he is by some of the other issues the team is facing.
“I can't believe we are where we are in the points, to be honest with you,” he said. “If it weren't for us having such an awesome team, we wouldn't be where we are. As a team, we know we've got to get the cars running better too. At Indianapolis it was exciting and it was great to be running up front. But it was one of those weird, crazy races.”
Even if Gordon makes the Chase, he hasn’t been a top contender. Things happen, but week after week, they seem to pop up during the race. Excuses aren’t going to cut it much longer.
Is there trouble at Hendrick Motorsports? Will there be changes made soon to appease the legions of Gordon fans expecting greatness from him? Gordon has repeatedly expressed confidence in his entire crew. But when teams slide backwards at such a critical juncture the boss man, in this case, Rick Hendrick, might need to have discussions about making changes for the better of all involved.
I expect Gordon will make the Chase, but he won’t be a major player unless something drastic happens.
Next Week: Countdown to the Chase
The Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams go west to the 2.0-mile Fontana, California track for more night racing. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until September 6.
Saturday, August 30: Nationwide Camping World RV 300, 9:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, August 31: Sprint Cup Pepsi 500, 7 p.m. TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Who will be Tony Stewart’s teammate in 2009?
Last Week’s Question: What year did Greg Biffle win the Craftsman Truck Series championship? The year was 2000.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
Feb. 7 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway*
Feb. 15 Daytona International Speedway
Feb. 22 Auto Club Speedway
March 1 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 8 Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 22 Bristol Motor Speedway
March 29 Martinsville Speedway
April 5 Texas Motor Speedway
April 18 Phoenix International Raceway
April 26 Talladega Superspeedway
May 2 Richmond International Raceway
May 9 Darlington Raceway
May 16 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Lowe’s Motor Speedway*
May 24 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
May 31 Dover International Speedway
June 7 Pocono Raceway
June 14 Michigan International Speedway
June 21 Infineon Raceway
June 28 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 4 Daytona International Speedway
July 11 Chicagoland Speedway
July 26 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 2 Pocono Raceway
Aug. 9 Watkins Glen International
Aug. 16 Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 22 Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 6 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sept. 12 Richmond International Raceway
Sept. 20 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sept. 27 Dover International Speedway
Oct. 4 Kansas Speedway
Oct. 11 Auto Club Speedway
Oct. 17 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Oct. 25 Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 1 Talladega Superspeedway
Nov. 8 Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 15 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 22 Homestead-Miami Speedway
* Denotes non-points event.
Feb. 13 Daytona International Speedway
Feb. 21 Auto Club Speedway
March 7 Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 28 Martinsville Speedway
April 25 Kansas Speedway
May 15 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
May 23 Mansfield Motorsports Park
May 29 Dover International Speedway
June 5 Texas Motor Speedway
June 13 Michigan International Speedway
June 19 Milwaukee Mile
June 27 Memphis Motorsports Park
July 18 Kentucky Speedway
July 24 O’Reilly Raceway Park
Aug. 1 Nashville Superspeedway
Aug. 19 Bristol Motor Speedway
Aug. 28 Chicagoland Speedway
Sept. 12 Gateway International Raceway
Sept. 19 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sept. 26 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Oct. 24 Martinsville Speedway
Oct. 31 Talladega Superspeedway
Nov. 6 Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 13 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 20 Homestead-Miami Speedway
Feb. 14 Daytona International Speedway
Feb. 21 Auto Club Speedway
Feb. 28 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 21 Bristol Motor Speedway
April 4 Texas Motor Speedway
April 11 Nashville Superspeedway
April 17 Phoenix International Raceway
April 25 Talladega Superspeedway
May 1 Richmond International Raceway
May 8 Darlington Raceway
May 23 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
May 30 Dover International Speedway
June 6 Nashville Superspeedway
June 13 Kentucky Speedway
June 20 Milwaukee Mile
June 27 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 3 Daytona International Speedway
July 10 Chicagoland Speedway
July 18 Gateway International Raceway
July 25 O’Reilly Raceway Park
Aug. 1 Iowa Speedway
Aug. 8 Watkins Glen International
Aug. 15 Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 21 Bristol Motor Speedway
Aug. 30 Circuit Gilles Villenueve
Sept. 5 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sept. 11 Richmond International Raceway
Sept. 26 Dover International Speedway
Oct. 3 Kansas Speedway
Oct. 10 Auto Club Speedway
Oct. 16 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Oct. 24 Memphis Motorsports Park
Nov. 7 Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 14 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 21 Homestead-Miami Speedway
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