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The Susquehanna football team can debate which factor carried the most significance.
The Sabers got Dick Bagnall his 150th career coaching victory.
They got the season off to a proper start.
Perhaps, most importantly, they got the upper hand on arch rival Montrose.
One thing, however, was without question.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Nick Felter said after scoring three touchdowns and intercepting a pass in a 42-22 victory.
Felter led the way as Susquehanna showed off its explosive running game and was also part of the defense answering one of its big questions.
The Sabers mixed in a knack for producing devastating open-field blocks to add to the Friday night show under the temporary lights on their home field.
“Last year, we were awful to open the season,” Bagnall said of the 28-6 Montrose win on opening night. “I figured we have a team that could be reckoned with but we’ve only beaten Montrose once in five years.
“Maybe the rivalry is more important than the season opener because everybody wants to beat Montrose whether we’re playing basketball, baseball or football.”
Felter led the offense with 120 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries and another 88 yards and a touchdown on two catches.
“Felter had another great game,” Bagnall said. “He has good feet and he spends a lot of time in the weightroom.”
Felter also helped defensively with four tackles to go along with his interception. The Sabers held Montrose senior quarterback Rob Volk, a 1,000-yard passer a year ago, to six completions in 23 attempts for 132 yards.
“In the past, everybody always said our secondary is the weakest part of our defense,” Felter said. “We had two interceptions and I think we might have impressed some people.”
Montrose also was effective defending Susquehanna’s dangerous quarterback. The Meteors went after Dan Kempa early, hitting him at every chance and holding the returning 1,000-yard rusher to 33 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Kempa also was 4-for-11 for 100 yards and the touchdown to Felter.
Kempa’s 8-yard touchdown run and extra point provided the only scoring of the first quarter to complete a seven-play, 55-yard drive on Susquehanna’s first possession.
Montrose took a 14-7 lead when Ethan Jones scored two touchdowns 4:40 apart in the second quarter.
The junior fullback finished with 204 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries while also leading the Montrose defense. Jones finished with seven tackles, including one for a two-yard loss, and four assists.
“We didn’t see that on the tapes we had,” Bagnall said. “We didn’t see how hard he ran or how well he ran.
“He ran that belly series and hurt us.”
Jones went up the middle for a 69-yard touchdown on Montrose’s first play of the second quarter and Dalton Smith added the two-pointer for an 8-7 lead. Jones scored on a 15-yard run with 6:16 left in the half.
The Sabers responded by scoring 29 straight points in a span of less than eight minutes to end the first half and start the second half.
John Herbert scored from the 1 after Kempa hit Felter with a 37-yard pass and Montrose got hit with two penalties for 23 yards.
The Meteors were penalized seven times for 72 yards in the second quarter and 11 times for 112 yards in the game.
Kempa’s 51-yard touchdown pass to Felter broke a tie and John Salinkas passed to Kempa for a two-pointer on a fake kick to make the lead, 22-14, with 2:22 left in the half.
Brad Weaver, who came back from a deep route to throw a crushing block on Felter’s 37-yard reception, used a big block from Cole Mallery to score on a 27-yard punt return a minute before halftime. Kempa’s kick made the lead, 29-14.
“The block that sprung us on the punt was by a freshman,” Bagnall said.
Weaver then returned the second half kickoff 36 yards and the Sabers went 33 yards in six plays to finish the scoring outburst.
Felter’s 4-yard run and Kempa’s kick built the lead to 36-14.
Jones bounced off two tacklers at the line on the way to a 52-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter.
Felter’s 40-yard run with seven minutes left closed the scoring.
Montrose had statistical advantages of 17-9 in first downs, 259-192 in rushing yards and 391-292 in total offense.
Smith ran 17 times for 69 yards for Montrose. Casey Birchard added three catches for 82 yards.
Salinkas had 10 carries for 35 yards for Susquehanna.
Steven Skursky, Nick Marco, Felter, Jarrett Coleman, Herbert and Kempa led the Susquehanna defense.
Skursky had four tackles and three assists. Two of the tackles were for 15 yards in losses and he recovered a fumble.
Marco had a game-high eight tackles and an assist.
Coleman had four tackles and four assists.
Herbert had three tackles, including two for three yards in losses, and two assists. He also rushed the passer into one incompletion and broke up another pass.
Kempa had an interception, broke up two more passes and added a tackle and two assists.
Jones, Smith, Mike LoPasi and Bryan Castrogiavanni led the Montrose defense.
Smith had five tackles, including one for a loss, and an assist. He also broke up a pass.
LoPasi had an interception while making three tackles and assisting on another.
Castrogiavanni had four tackles and two assists.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees won the franchise’s fourth straight International League North Division championship Friday night.
IL Most Valuable Player Shelley Duncan hit a tie-breaking home run in Friday’s 7-3 title clinching victory over the Rochester Red Wings.
The first of the four straight division titles was won by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, who were the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees won the franchise’s first IL title last year.
Brackney Brotzman, a sophomore from Montrose, started at forward for Keystone College in a 6-3 opening loss to Manhattanville.
Brotzman was second on the team with five assists last season and also had four goals in 18 games.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees open the International League playoffs with a semifinal series against the Gwinnett Braves.
Gwinnett hosts the first two games Wednesday and Thursday.
The Yankees are home at PNC Park Friday at 7:05.
If necessary, Game Four will be Saturday at 7:05 and Game Five will be Sunday at 1:05.
In high school football, Susquehanna (1-0) will play at Western Wayne (1-0) Friday night while Lackawanna Trail (0-1) plays at Montrose (0-1).
Our first week predictions record was 9-4 (69.2 percent), including a correct exact score prediction in Scranton Prep’s 21-20 victory over West Scranton.
This week’s predictions, with home team in CAPS: WESTERN WAYNE 29, Susquehanna 21; MONTROSE 22, Lackawanna Trail 13; Abington Heights 21, WYOMING VALLEY WEST 13; EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH 22, Delaware Valley 13; PLEASANT VALLEY 42, Honesdale 16; Scranton 17, PITTSTON AREA 6; Wallenpaupack 27, EAST STROUDSBURG NORTH 23; WEST SCRANTON 31, Riverside 19; Dunmore 43, CARBONDALE 6; LAKELAND 25, Mid Valley 6; VALLEY VIEW 24, Wyoming Area 15; OLD FORGE 33, Holy Redeemer 6; SCRANTON PREP 23, North Pocono 12; Lake-Lehman 63, HOLY CROSS 12.
In cross country, Montrose will host the Meteor Invitational Saturday.
The junior high girls start at 9 a.m., followed by junior high boys at 9:30, junior varsity girls at 10, JV boys at 10:45, varsity girls at 11:30 and varsity boys at 12:15 p.m.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Keselowski Signs With Penske
By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter
Brad Keselowski will a have a full-time Cup ride in 2010.
The 25-year-old native of Rochester Hills, Mich., will drive the No. 12 Penske Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season. He will also run a full-season schedule in the Nationwide Series, where he will compete for the championship.
He will join two other Penske drivers, Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish. David Stremme, current driver of the No. 12 Cup Penske Dodge will be released.
“Penske Racing is one of the top teams in all of motorsports and I am honored to join Roger Penske's organization and compete for wins with his Cup and Nationwide Series teams,” said Keselowski. “This is a great opportunity for me to continue competing in the Nationwide Series and to run my first full season in the Cup Series with a strong and experienced team.”
Keselowski pulled off one of the most stunning wins of the season, when he won the Spring race at Talladega, while driving the No. 1 Chevrolet for James Finch of Phoenix Racing, and has three top-10 finishes in just eight Cup Series starts this season.
A third-generation driver, Keselowski has won at every level in which he has competed. He is currently ranked third in the Nationwide Series standings with three wins to his credit in 2009, including a dramatic victory in August at his home track at Michigan International Speedway.
It seemed like young Keselowski might have to sit on the sidelines next year. Hendrick Motorsports, which fields cars for JR Motorsports had the opportunity to sign him, but failed to do so.
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, who co-owns JR Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and is fielding Keselowski in select Cup races this season in a fifth Hendrick Motorsports car, was interested in the possibility of keeping Keselowski tied to his stable. But with NASCAR’s new four-car limit in 2010 and Hendrick having no Cup ride available, Keselowski ultimately decided to look elsewhere.
“It became obvious that it was just not in the cards,” Keselowski said. “There was just too many things going against us with the team limit and so forth.”
Keselowski turned his attention to the Penske organization, which is essentially making driver David Stremme a free agent in 2010 to make room for Keselowski.
JR Motorsports is considering several drivers for its two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams next year, team spokesman Mike Davis said Tuesday, although he declined to identify them.
The team also has entered the No. 5 car in several races with a variety of drivers, including team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Scott Wimmer and Ron Fellows, and Tony Stewart is also slated to drive before the end of the year.
Meanwhile Kevin Harvick has put to rest rumors that he might not return next season as driver for Richard Childress Racing. He will honor the last year of his contract with RCR for his 10th season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series despite rumors to the contrary.
“Rumors about Kevin not driving for RCR next season have been flying around the garage area and in the media,” said Richard Childress. “We want to put the rumors behind us by stating together that Kevin will drive RCR's No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevy for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. RCR continues to work on the overall performance of the No. 29 team, like we are with all of our teams, and the plan is to end the season on a high note. Kevin and the No. 29 team are also preparing for next season with the goal of making a run at the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.”
Harvick is 24th in Cup standings and has struggled throughout the 2009 season, with only 2 top-10 finishes.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams will be at the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway. This is the last race before the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins. The Camping World Trucks will race at Madison, IL, just across the river from St. Louis, MO.
Fri., Sept. 11, Nationwide Series Richmond 250, race 27 of 35; Starting time: 7 pm (EDT); TV: ESPN2.
Sat., Sept. 12, Camping World Trucks 200, race 18 of 25; Starting time: 2 pm (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.
Sat., Sept. 12, Sprint Cup Chevy Rock & Roll 400, race 26 of 36; Starting time: 7 pm (EDT); TV: ABC.
Racing Trivia Question: Richard Petty has 200 Cup wins. Who is the number two driver?
Last Week’s Question: What is the name of the camp operated by Kyle Petty and his wife for kids with health care needs? Answer. The Victory Junction Camp.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
The beach at Pages Lake was the perfect setting, along with a beautiful day, on August 1 for the annual Children’s Fishing Derby, which is sponsored by the Blue Ridge Sportsmen.
The fish were all ready and waiting to be caught by the children who attended. Some of the children had never had the chance to fish before, and you should have seen their faces, as faithful John McCarthy measured to see who got the biggest in the age groups.
Each group, the “Tadpoles,” the “Toads,” and the “Frogs” all walked off with prizes. There were enough prizes donated so that each one walked home with a prize. There was even a small swimming pool set up for the smaller children to pick out ducks with numbers, so they too could win a prize.
Kathy, the chairman, would like to thank each and every person that donated a prize or money for a prize, along with all the helpers, to make this another successful fishing derby. “We could not do it without your help, and the kids really look forward to it every year. Again, we want to thank you all, see you next year.”
The Pumas U15 and U16 teams won a double victory Saturday August 8 in the 3v3 soccer tournament hosted by the Abington Heights High School. Both teams are now qualified for Regional 3v3 Tournament to be played in summer 2010.
Picture above (l-r) are U16 team members: Michel Legrand, Joe Jarrow, Dylan Thomas, Alix Legrand-Wittich, Henry Cornell, John Murray, Don Murray and Roger Thomas.
Pictured above (l-r) are U15 team members: Ray Ferrario, Colin Davis, Chris Ferrario, Ryan Kozloski, Eli Vaknin and Colby Thomas.
The Pumas are a newly formed soccer team that got together last winter at Riverfront Sports. They had a very good first season in the Spring 11v11 HS League Div 2 at Riverfront Sports with 4 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie.
The team philosophy is “reaching excellence in soccer at an affordable cost.”
Open try-outs are available all year long. They are currently training out of the South Abington Elementary School soccer field and getting ready to enter several tournaments this fall as a U16 team. They will be back at Riverfront Sports in early winter.
Their long-term goal includes competing in a travel League in the 2010 spring season as well as competing in the Regional 3v3 Tournament.
Cole Wheaton has been going to the golf course since he was old enough to swing a club.
Whether he is traveling to the Binghamton area to play in Triple Cities Golf Association events, competing with the best junior players and men at Montrose Country Club or serving as one of the leaders of a successful high school program, the golf course is still the place to find the Montrose junior.
Wheaton shot an 80 for the best score among county players while leading Montrose to a sixth-place finish in the 19-team, season-opening Irving Jackman Memorial Tournament at Scranton Municipal Golf Course. He has helped the Meteors to a 4-0 start and sole possession of first place in Lackawanna League Northern Division play to continue a successful summer in which he won the Montrose Country Club junior championship and advanced to the semifinals of the men’s club championship.
For his efforts, Wheaton has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for August.
Despite his finish at the Jackman Tournament, Wheaton was actually expecting better of himself.
“I look at it as a big tournament and try to do well there,” Wheaton said. “I hit the ball really well, but when I got close to the green, my approach shots were not as good as I hoped.”
That part of his game is currently the area of concentration for Wheaton, who is already in his third year as a starter for the Meteors.
“I’m trying to improve my approach shots, hitting into greens, to try to make more birdies,” said Wheaton, whose strength is his play off the tee.
Meteors coach Mike Zuba said that Wheaton is willing to practice on his own and put extra time into improving his game.
“He has a strong will to want to be good,” Zuba said.
Wheaton was stopped short of the men’s club championship in his first try when he ran into his father, Barry Wheaton, in the semifinals and lost. Barry serves as assistant coach in basketball where Cole played as a varsity reserve during his sophomore season.
Kathy Wheaton, Cole’s mother, has seven straight women’s club championships at Montrose.
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