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Local Sports Scene

Defense, Tailback Combination Lead Montrose To 28-6 Victory
By Tom Robinson

Montrose football coach Jack Keihl says he sees his two rotating tailbacks as equals.

Mike Rihl and Dalton Smith went out on opening night and proved the accuracy of their coach’s assessment.

Smith ran for 60 yards, Rihl ran for 59 and each scored two touchdowns as the Meteors handled visiting Susquehanna, 28-6, in the high school football season opener.

“They both run hard,” Keihl said. “In my eyes, they are equal, but different style runners.”

Rihl, a senior who carried 16 times and had two rushing touchdowns, provides the more traditional Montrose power running. Smith, who carried 11 times and scored one of his touchdowns on a 32-yard punt return, gives the Meteors outside speed.

The tailback combination provided the only consistent offensive support to back an outstanding defensive effort.

“We played good defense,” Keihl said. “We made mental mistakes more than physical mistakes.”

The Meteors held the Sabers to 11 yards rushing and three first downs until the final six minutes. They also had four of their five takeaways by that time while building up a 28-0 lead.

Susquehanna had one drive stopped on a fumble recovery by Craig Brown at the 8 with 4:11 left before scoring its only touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Dan Kempa to Brad Weaver on the game’s final play.

The Sabers struggled offensively, fumbling the ball eight times and losing five while also have having trouble fielding kicks and punts.

As a result, Montrose started all three of its scoring drives in Susquehanna territory. Prior to Brown’s late fumble recovery, the Meteors had started seven times in Sabers territory and the other three times from no worse than their 37.

Corey Hillis returned a fumble 34 yards to the Susquehanna 25 to set up the second touchdown.

Montrose opened the scoring on its second possession after forcing Susquehanna to punt from its end zone.

The Meteors covered 35 yards in seven plays. Rob Volk rolled left and found Kyle Bonnice with a 26-yard pass on third-and-nine. Smith then scored on fourth down from the 1 before adding the two-point conversion run for an 8-0 lead with 5:19 left in the first quarter.

Hillis’ fumble return in the final minute of the first quarter set up a four-play, 25-yard scoring drive. Smith ran for four yards to convert a third down and Rihl scored from the 12 on the next play.

Smith’s punt return down the left side midway through the second quarter gave Montrose a 21-0 lead despite producing just four first downs in the first half and eight in the game.

“That was a big spark right there,” Keihl said. “I said to the guys at halftime that I wasn’t happy because we were sputtering a little.

“The only reason we were up a third touchdown was because of that punt return.”

The Meteors added to the lead with their most sustained drive of the game. They moved 45 yards in eight plays, including six runs by Rihl, who scored from the 1. Smith ran for nine yards and Volk 14 on consecutive plays in the middle of the drive.

Rick Buckley kicked extra points after the last two scores.

Neither team had much offense.

Montrose outgained Susquehanna, 160-113.

Weaver caught three passes for 52 yards, Kempa went 5-for-10 for 57 yards and Stephen Andujar carried six times for 29 yards to lead Susquehanna’s offense.

Hillis, Ethan Jones, Dan Staats, Levi Tiffany, Brian Davis and Rihl all made significant contributions, including at least one tackle for a loss, to a strong team defensive effort by Montrose.

Hillis had six tackles and two assists, including one each for losses, along with his long fumble return. Jones had seven tackles and three assists. Staats had seven tackles, including two for losses, and forced a fumble. Tiffany had five tackles, an assist and a forced fumble. Davis had two tackles, both for four-yard losses, and recovered two fumbles. Rihl had three tackles, two assists and a fumble recovery.

Brad Allen, Andujar and Jordan Aldrich led Susquehanna defensively.

Allen had a team-high six tackles, including three for losses, and two assists. Andujar had four tackles, including one for a six-yard loss, and three assists. Aldrich had four tackles and two assists.


The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees clinched the International League North Division title Saturday night when they won in extra innings while the second-place Pawtucket Red Sox were losing in extra innings.

In high school golf, Montrose shared the Lackawanna League North Division lead with Honesdale at 3-0 heading into their match against each other Tuesday. Wallenpaupack was the only other unbeaten in the division at 2-0.


Susquehanna will play its home football opener under portable lights Friday night against Western Wayne. Montrose will be on the road at Lackawanna Trail Friday.

Our first week high school football predictions were 9-3. Predictions on this week’s games, with home team in CAPS are: SUSQUEHANNA 14, Western Wayne 12; LACKAWANNA TRAIL 24, Montrose 8; PLEASANT VALLEY 37, Honesdale 13; DUNMORE 38, Carbondale 19; LAKE-LEHMAN 30, Holy Cross 12; Old Forge 41, HOLY REDEEMER 13; Lakeland 32, MID VALLEY 12; WYOMING AREA 10, Valley View 7; WALLENPAUPACK 27, East Stroudsburg North 7; Scranton Prep 20, NORTH POCONO 12; RIVERSIDE 33, West Scranton 21; SCRANTON 30, Pittston Area 12; DELAWARE VALLEY 20, East Stroudsburg South 14; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 14, Wyoming Valley West 6.

In professional baseball, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Pawtucket Red Sox will meet in a best-of-five International League semifinal series. Game Three, as well as Games Four and Five, if necessary, will be at PNC Field in Moosic. The games are scheduled for Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

The Racing Reporter

Johnson Gets Convincing California Win, Fontana, CA – Jimmie Johnson thinks his No 48 team are legitimate contenders to win this year’s championship. And after Sunday night’s dominating win at California Speedway, it would be hard to disagree with him.

Jimmie Johnson, winner of Sunday's Pepsi 500 at California.

Johnson started from the pole and dominated the race for the entire 250 laps. The only time he was not the leader was when he was beaten out of the pits.

“This is my home state and to have this big of a fan base means the world to me,” said Johnson. “It was an awesome car. This is the type night and car that you only dream about.

“There’s a lot of hard work been going into this race team trying to get itself where it needs to be. This team is just starting to click. I would expect us to get better week by week.”

Which means bad news for the competition, since Johnson has won the past two Cup championships.

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford was second.

“He was beating me through turns three and four,” said Biffle. “I could tell he had more grip up off the corners. I elected to go with a little different front-end setup that turned a little better, but the 48 car was just better.”

Third-place finisher Denny Hamlin was the highest finishing Toyota.

“It was a great run,” said Hamlin. “We’re working hard. The pit crew did a great job. They made the right adjustments on the car and got me out when I needed it.”

Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, David Reutimann, and Clint Bowyer were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Top 10 Chase contenders with only the Richmond race left to determine the 12 drivers that will be in the Chase: 1. Kyle Busch-3751, 2. Edwards-3547, 3. Johnson-3386, 4. Earnhardt-3323, 5. Burton-3234, 6. Biffle-3159, 7. Harvick-3132, 8. Stewart-3110, 9. Kenseth-3081, 10. J. Gordon-3074.

A Look At The Chase – With 25 races down and 11 to go, we’re two thirds of the way through the season and just one race from the start of the 2008 Chase. Let’s look at who’s hot and who’s not.

The leading driver right now is Kyle Busch. Despite his immaturity and the shenanigan he pulled at Bristol two weeks ago, he’s still the driver to beat. And he has the team to back him up.

Carl Edwards has had a spectacular five-race run with three wins in four (Pocono, Michigan, Bristol) races, a second place at Indy and a lowest finish of ninth at The Glen. It’s hard to argue against his chances of winning the Championship, but it likely will take more of the bump and run style moves we saw Saturday night if Edwards is to overtake Busch for the title.

Tony Stewart has been there twice. He knows what it takes. Even though he is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart likes to win. I think when the Chase starts we will see a different and more determined Stewart. He might be the “surprise driver” of the Chase.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has had several good runs, along with one win, but right now I don’t think you could say his team is of championship quality. That doesn’t mean Junior isn’t capable. Overall, the No. 88 team has been inconsistent this season.

Jimmie Johnson is tough, and when the going gets tough, Johnson usually surfaces at the top. But I think the No. 48 team lacks that little spark needed for another championship.

Jeff Gordon might need to make some team changes during the off season. Gordon’s team has the experience and racing savvy, but for some reason they have not put it all together this year.

Jeff Burton has a good team, but I don’t think they are quite ready to go all the way.

Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, and Ryan Newman are all good drivers, but they haven’t shown the “championship driver qualities” needed. Maybe next year.

My picks to win this year’s title are: 1. Kyle Busch, 2. Carl Edwards, 3. Tony Stewart.

Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders after 27 of 35: 1. Bowyer-3913, 2. Keselowski-3709, 3. Edwards-3691, 4. Reutimann-3503, 5. Bliss-3474, 6. Ragan-3428, 7. Kyle Busch-3344, 8. M. Wallace-3136, 9. Leffler-3129, 10. Ambrose-3082.

New Bud Shootout Format For 2009 – NASCAR is changing the way drivers are chosen for the Budweiser Shootout, a non-points exhibition race. No longer are pole winners and past race winners prerequisites. Next year the grid will be made up of the top six teams in owner points from each manufacturer. The new format will give the car manufacturers more of a role in the Shootout while losing the uniqueness of having as many underdogs in the field. Also, sponsorship concerns contributed partially to the decision to radically change the format.

All four manufacturers will have six drivers in the new Shootout field, never mind the fact that Dodge barely has six drivers qualify for a race on a weekly basis, or Toyota is still struggling to keep six cars in the top 35, even with the addition of Joe Gibbs Racing.

If the season were to end today, David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip, Juan Montoya and Travis Kvapil would qualify.

Sorenson To Gillett Evernham, Statesville, NC – Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that Reed Sorenson has signed a multi-year contract to join the team for the 2009 Cup season and beyond.

“Reed is a highly talented driver with a wealth of experience and accomplishments for a 22-year-old,” said Mark McArdle, the team’s vice president and managing director of competition. “We believe he has a great future ahead of him here at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. He will be a great fit with our drivers, sponsors and employees.”

The native of Peachtree City, GA has three wins in the Nationwide series and five top-five finishes in the Sprint Cup Series.

Before his NASCAR career began, Sorenson won championships in Legends racing and Quarter Midget racing, visited victory lane in ARCA, and starred in the American Speed Association (ASA), winning the rookie of the year award in 2003 at age 17.

“I’m pretty pumped up about this,” said Sorenson. “I can’t wait to get in their cars. I really believe in what they are doing with their program with all their wins and poles this year. Ray Evernham and the Gilletts are going to give us the equipment we need to go out and be a contender each weekend and eventually race for a championship.”

Next Week: Joe Gibbs Racing


The Sprint and Nationwide teams are at the 0.75-mile Richmond, Virginia track, while the Craftsman Trucks race at the 1.25-mile Gateway Speedway, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

Friday, September 5: Nationwide Series Emerson Radio 250, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.

Saturday, September 6: Craftsman Truck Series Camping World 200, 2 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.

Saturday, September 6: Sprint Cup Chevy Rock & Roll 400, 7 p.m. TV: ABC.

Racing Trivia Question: Where is Carl Edwards' home town?

Last Week’s Question: Who will be Tony Stewart’s teammate in 2009? Answer: It will be Ryan Newman.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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