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The new high school football season started last weekend, but it resembled much of what was witnessed in 2009.
Susquehanna continued its climb by winning a matchup of potential playoff contenders while the struggles went on at Montrose, which fell in a game between teams that carried eight-game losing streaks over from a year ago.
Dan Kempa took the first play of his senior season 77 yards for a touchdown Saturday afternoon to lead the Sabers to a 26-13 victory over Hanover Area.
Nanticoke ruined Montrose’s home opener, 32-13, Friday night.
Kempa ran for 176 yards on 21 carries and threw for two touchdowns while completing four of 10 passes for 92 yards. He helped the Sabers open a 26-7 lead at halftime and that margin held up until Hanover Area scored in the final minute.
Sean Stanley scored twice for the Sabers, who struck quickly by producing three scores on possessions that totaled just 32 seconds. Stanley caught a 40-yard pass from Kempa for a 13-0 lead after one quarter and returned an interception 45 yards for the final score by the Sabers.
Kempa, who already has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his career, kept on an option to the right and went the distance before adding the kick for a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game.
The Sabers threatened again but Kempa’s pass was intercepted at the 1.
After forcing a punt, Susquehanna scored in three plays on the Kempa-to-Stanley pass.
Andrew Forgatch, who carried 31 times for 169 yards, tried to bring Hanover Area back with a 23-yard touchdown 1:49 before halftime.
The Sabers still had time, however, to turn the 13-7 lead into a 26-7 advantage at the half.
Cole Mallery returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards and Steven Skurski pulled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Kempa with 1:33 still remaining.
Then, Stanley stepped in front of a pass and went down the sideline for another score just 18 seconds later.
Forgatch scored from the 1 with 49 seconds left.
Montrose’s revamped offense produced 230 yards on 48 carries in the opener, but was hurt by losing three fumbles. The Meteors did not attempt a pass.
Nanticoke needed a fake punt to open the scoring 8:33 before halftime. Brian Maslowski threw 35 yards to Zak Matulewski for the score.
Montrose came right back. Quarterback Brett Johnson kept and went through the line for a 37-yard touchdown to complete a 10-play, 72-yard drive. The Meteors lined up to go for the lead, but a fumbled snap spoiled the two-point attempt.
Another fumbled snap by Montrose was the first of two turnovers that allowed Nanticoke to score twice in the final minute of the half.
Maslowski, who ran for 140 yards, scored on touchdowns of 14 and 8 yards.
Nanticoke made it three touchdowns in less than three minutes when Rob Kotz scored on a 28-yard run early in the third quarter.
Isaac Bulkley helped Montrose cut into the deficit with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Nanticoke’s Matulewski caught a second touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Ethan Jones led the Montrose ground game with 16 carries for 90 yards. Johnson ran seven times for 63 yards. Nathan Clark was 13-for-38 and Bulkley was 7-for-26.
WEEK IN REVIEW
ALLENTOWN - Montrose graduate Rich Thompson was, appropriately, sprinting to the end of the season with the Class AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Thompson was averaging .412 in his previous nine games, heading into Sunday and Monday’s final two games of the season against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. During that stretch, he was 14-for-34 with nine stolen bases and 13 runs scored.
The performance was strong enough that Thompson’s name began coming up in speculation about possible additions to the defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies with the expanded rosters in September. Thompson had one previous stint in the Major Leagues with the Kansas City Royals.
The Phillies would need to take extra steps to get the 31-year-old outfielder there since he is not part of their 40-man roster and they would have to drop someone to make room for him.
Thompson barely slowed down this season despite a midseason drop to Class AA Reading to allow hot prospect Domonic Brown some time in the Lehigh Valley outfield.
In 33 games with Reading, Thompson batted .297 and had 13 stolen bases without getting caught while scoring 23 runs. Going into Sunday, Thompson was batting .287 and was 28-for-32 stealing bases with 47 runs scored in 97 games for Lehigh Valley.
“It’s been going well the last few days,” Thompson said early in the hot streak. “I want to have a strong finish to the season. I’m just trying to keep it going.”
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees clinched their fourth straight International League North Division championship and the fifth straight for the franchise, including the 2006 title by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.
Jonathan Albaladejo, who set a league record with 43 saves, was named to the league all-star team along with catcher Jesus Montero and shortstop Eduardo Nunez.
Nunez was already in New York at the time of the awards and Albaladejo was promoted as soon as the rosters expanded Wednesday.
In high school golf, Montrose leads the Lackawanna League North Division with a 4-0 record.
Western Wayne is the only other unbeaten in the division at 3-0.
In high school cross country, Lackawanna League coaches were informed during their annual meeting that Elk Lake will be hosting the District 2 Championships October 27.
District officials were told after last year’s race that they would have to find a new site after years of running on the Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
In junior high cross country, two Susquehanna runners finished among the top 10 in their races at the Cliff Robbins Memorial Race at Misericordia University.
Ivy Christensen was sixth in the girls’ race and Brandon Soden was ninth among boys.
Chris Kimble, a 230-pound freshman tight end from Susquehanna, has made the roster at West Virginia Wesleyan.
West Virginia Wesleyan, a Division II team, is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1994 after beating Urbana, 17-14, Saturday.
Kimble has not appeared in the first two games.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Montrose and Susquehanna will again face Wyoming Valley Conference opponents in non-league football games.
The Meteors (0-1) are at Northwest (1-0) Friday night and the Sabers (1-0) are at Holy Redeemer (0-1) Saturday afternoon.
Our predictions for the opening weekend of the season were 9-6 (60.0 percent). This week’s predictions with home team in CAPS: NORTHWEST 43, Montrose 7; Susquehanna 34, HOLY REDEEMER 14; Lakeland 19, MID VALLEY 14; RIVERSIDE 41, Holy Cross 8; LACKAWANNA TRAIL 29, Lake-Lehman 25; OLD FORGE 28, GAR 21; HANOVER AREA 17, Western Wayne 6; Pleasant Valley 30, HONESDALE 7; Valley View 20, CARBONDALE 16; DELAWARE VALLEY 32, East Stroudsburg South 21; SCRANTON 39, Pittston Area 19; East Stroudsburg North 24, WALLENPAUPACK 21; West Scranton 16, WYOMING AREA 14; NORTH POCONO 21, Berwick 12; Susquehanna 34, HOLY REDEEMER 14; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 33, Wyoming Valley West 7; Dallas 27, SCRANTON PREP 8; Dunmore 42, MEYERS 0.
In high school cross country, the Lackawanna League season opens Wednesday.
Elk Lake, which went unbeaten to win both the boys’ and girls’ titles last year, will run against Dunmore and Riverside at Riverside. Blue Ridge and Montrose will compete against the same two teams.
The Montrose Invitational is scheduled for Saturday.
In high school golf, Montrose is at Western Wayne Thursday. Montrose had a 4-0 record heading into Tuesday’s scheduled home match against Wallenpaupack (3-1). Western Wayne entered the week with a 3-0 record.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Stewart Gets First Win Of Season
HAMPTON, Ga. - Tony Stewart won for the third time at Atlanta and for the 38th time in his career when he beat Carl Edwards to the checkered flag, to break a 31-race winless streak for the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.
“I’ve never been so happy to win a race in my life. It’s been a while,” said Stewart, who has now won a race in each of his 12 Sprint Cup seasons. “I forgot what it was like, it’s been so long. I don’t know how many races it’s been, but it seems like an eternity since we won a race.”
Tony Stewart is congratulated by race runner-up Carl Edwards and Stewart Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman in Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stewart led eight times for a race-high 176 laps in the 325-lap contest to score his first victory since winning last October at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer
Stewart’s teammate, Ryan Newman bounced back twice from adversity to post an eighth-place finish.
“We're not going down without a fight,” said Newman. “It appeared we were doomed a couple of times out there, but we never gave up. We kept our poise and fought back just as our Soldiers do every day. The last 50 laps were some of the best racing I've ever seen here at Atlanta.”
Newman jumped two spots - from 15th to 13th - but only gained one point on Clint Bowyer, who holds the 12th and final Chase position. With one race remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins, Newman trails Bowyer by 117 points.
Juan Montoya and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-10.
Polesitter Denny Hamlin led seven times early for 74 laps but his engine blew on Lap 143 and he finished 43rd.
“I was just pacing myself out there, having fun and racing with Tony and those guys,” Hamlin said. “We’ve really got a strong race team, and if we can just keep it together, we can really win this championship legitimately. We’ve just got to keep it together, and we’ll be all right.”
Greg Biffle fell short in his attempt to lock into the Chase when contact from Newman’s Chevy sent Biffle’s Ford sideways into the Turn 3 wall. Biffle slid across the track and took out Elliott Sadler. Though Biffle returned to the track after extensive repairs, he finished 36th, 80 laps down.
Biffle is 11th in points, 161 ahead of Newman, and can lock up a spot in the Chase with a finish better than 43rd next Saturday at Richmond.
Series points leader Kevin Harvick had one of the fastest cars in the field, but blew a tire on Lap 255, and shredded the fender. He finished 33rd.
Top-15 Chase leaders with only one race left before the Chase begins. Only the top-12 leaders will make it. 1. Harvick-3585, 2. J. Gordon-3366, 3. Kyle Busch-3325, 4. Stewart-3302, 5. Edwards-3288, 6. Burton-3261, 7. Johnson-3247, 8. Kurt Busch-3228, 9. Kenseth-3225, 10. Hamlin-3147, 11. Biffle-3110, 12. Bowyer-3066, 13. Newman-2949, 14. McMurray-2938, 15. Martin-2919.
McMURRAY GETS ATLANTA NATIONWIDE WIN
Jamie McMurray held off Kyle Busch and stopped Busch one spot short of a historic win Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“We unloaded today and had pretty much the fastest car off the truck,” McMurray said. “It was just pretty loose, and we just did a really good job of adjusting on it.
“At the end, Pops (crew chief Tony Eury Sr.) adjusted on it, and it was pretty fast, even on the short runs.”
McMurray led 43 of the final 47 laps, including the last 23.
Busch is tied with Sam Ard for the series’ single-season wins record with 10.
Carl Edwards ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth. Joey Logano, Jason Leffler, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top 10.
Top-10 points leaders after 26 of 35: 1. Keselowski-4127, 2. Edwards-3795, 3. Kyle Busch-3576, 4. Allgaier-3385, 5. Menard-3309, 6. Harvick-3073, 7. Bayne-2946, 8. S. Wallace-2715, 9. Logano-2872, 10. Leffler-2866.
BODINE THANKS BUSCH FOR DIRTY DRIVING
Todd Bodine continues to roll toward his second Truck series championship, as he took Friday’s race at Kentucky Speedway over Johnny Sauter.
Bodine spun while battling Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 81 of the 150-lap race, but that trouble helped set up a fuel-mileage gamble for his No. 30 Germain Racing team.
“The first person I’ve got to thank is Kyle Busch for driving dirty, sucking me down and getting me spun out and giving us the gas. .... [We] got sucked around, got some fuel and here we are in victory lane,” Bodine said after the race..
During lap 80, Busch and Bodine were racing side by side for the lead in Turn 3 when Busch charged around on the outside lane. Bodine spun sideways in front of the field, though he didn’t hit anything.
A panel in the truck’s bed flew off, and Bodine made a couple of extra stops under that caution for his team to repair the damage. He restarted 25th.
After stopping again for fuel on lap 95, Bodine raced the final 55 laps under green on one tank of fuel.
“I thought that was kind of low, but that’s how Bodine is. … It was just a matter of hard racing, I thought,” Busch said during an interview at Atlanta. “If he doesn’t want me racing him that hard, maybe next time I’ll lift.”
Busch was attempting to join Fred Lorenzen (1964), Richard Petty (1971), Bobby Allison (1971) and David Pearson (1973) as drivers who have won five consecutive NASCAR events, regardless of series.
Aric Almirola, Jason White, Ricky Carmichael, Timothy Peters, Busch, Ryan Sieg, Austin Dillon and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-10.
Top-10 points leaders: 1. Bodine-2898, 2. Almirola-2637, 3. Sauter-2580, 4. Peters-2533, 5. Hornaday-2461, 6. Dillon-2458, 7. Crafton-2458, 8. Skinner-2334, 9. Starr-2254, 10. White-2133.
FYI: The following article appeared in the Daytona Beach News Journal:
NASCAR is in the process of turning its public relations unit into an integrated marketing communications department.
Three areas that will see greater communications resourcing and organizational focus include: brand and consumer marketing; digital and social media strategy and activation; and strategic collaboration with industry stakeholders.
I’m hoping that someone will explain to me what NASCAR is really up to.
Fans I talk with seem to think they should focus more on the actual racing.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at the .75-mile Richmond Raceway. This will be the last race for the Cup drivers before the 10-race Chase for the 2010 Sprint Cup championship begins. The Trucks have an off weekend.
Fri., Sept. 10, Nationwide Series Virginia 250, race 27 of 35; Starting time: 7 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.
Sat., Sept. 11. Sprint Cup Richmond 400, race 26 of 36; Starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: ABC.
Racing Trivia Question: Where is Elliott Sadler’s hometown?
Last Week’s Question: The NASCAR Rookie of the Year was instituted in 1957. Who was the first driver to be named Rookie of the Year? Answer. It was a driver named Ken Rush, from High Point, NC. His NASCAR career ran from 1957 until 1964. His best finish was a second at Winston Salem, NC in 1959.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
Jordan Smith came out of the summer hoping he was ready to be among the top golfers in the Lackawanna League.
Just two days into the season, Smith proved that was the case.
By shooting 2-over-par, 74 in the early-season Jackman Memorial Tournament at Scranton Municipal Golf Course, Smith claimed the low junior award and was second overall out of a 122 players from a field that featured 21 of the 24 league schools.
Smith added three individual wins during team victories in August to help get the Meteors out to the Lackawanna League Northern Division lead and land honors as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
“Going into my junior year, I thought I was playing well and could get up among the top players,” Smith said.
Starting on the par-4 seventh hole in the shot-gun start, Smith opened with a birdie to briefly get under par on a day when wet and windy conditions kept anyone from finishing in red numbers.
“It was a real important tournament to me,” said Smith, who considers it his top tournament performance on any level. “I was trying to do real well in it.
“I was real happy with myself.”
Smith is a three-year starter in golf where he has already part of a division championship team last season after helping the Meteors to a second-place finish in 2008. In the winter, he plays basketball where he was a junior varsity starter and a sub on the varsity team that won the Lackawanna Division 3 championship.
This fall seems to represent another championship opportunity.
“I think we can win the league again, if we continue to play well,” Smith said.
For Smith, who plays in the Anthracite Golf Association and Triple Cities Golf Association junior events during the summer, there is a key to his strong play.
“I’m putting very well and I think my whole short game has been strong,” Smith said. “I’m working on long irons and driving the ball.
“I think I’ve fixed my driver.”
Jordan is the son of John Smith and Kathy Pierce of Montrose.
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