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Montrose finished one game better than Lackawanna Trail and used a playoff win in the first half of the season to help win a Lackawanna League Division 3 title last season.
Elk Lake was then a game behind Lackawanna Trail and Mountain View was one more game back.
A similar tight pack is possible this year among any of the same four teams plus a newcomer to title contention.
Blue Ridge could join the mix in a title race that is likely to once again be led by Lackawanna Trail and Montrose.
The continued development of 7-foot junior center Steve Miller makes Lackawanna Trail the slightest of favorites in a division that was hit hard by graduation and has subsequently seen its teams get off to rough starts in non-league play.
Blue Ridge and Lakeland, which won just once in Division 2 before dropping down last season, are the two teams with the most back and therefore the most likely to make moves up in the standings.
Teams turn to league action for all of one game before the holidays when they play their openers Wednesday.
Montrose brings back starters Colby Major and Billy Stranburg from its championship team. The Meteors won their first two non-league games.
Blue Ridge returns starters Alex Cardoza, Dylan Pruitt and Matt Principe.
Elk Lake has Joe Woolcock and Mark Bush back.
Mountain View returns Chris Herman and Julian Williams.
Kyle Kiehart, Eric Grabowski and Tyler Brady all started last season as freshmen for Lakeland.
Susquehanna and Forest City round out the division.
Andrzej Tomczyk, Austin Cowperthwait and Taylor Cundey return for the Sabers, who were last in the division a year ago, but also have a chance to show improvement.
Forest City is being led by interim coach Carl Imbt.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Katie Yale scored 14 points and Cassie Erdmann added 13 when Forest City went to Old Forge and avenged a loss in last season’s District 2 Class A girls’ basketball championship game with an impressive 51-30 victory in the only game the Lady Foresters played before league play started.
“That was a big plus for us,” Forest City coach Carl Urbas said. “I was telling our kids that Old Forge just lost in its tournament by 12 to Mid Valley, which people are saying is the best team in our league.
“To beat Old Forge at Old Forge by 21 looks good.”
In high school football, Clairton ran off 36 straight points to post its 31st straight victory and repeat as state Class A champion with a 36-30 victory over Riverside.
The Vikings, trying to become the first District 2 team to win a state title since 1997, raced to a 24-0 lead with 9:46 left in the half by outgaining Clairton 213 to minus-15 up to that point.
Clairton’s defense then dominated the next eight possessions before Corey Talerico hit four passes for 85 yards in a drive that cut the lead to six with 2:14 left. The Vikings got the ball back with 36 seconds left, but were intercepted on the next play.
“I made a couple of bad calls and we missed some opportunities,” Riverside coach Harry Armstrong said. “If we could have put together one more drive or if we had held the ball for five or six minutes one time …”
Desimon Green, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback/defensive end, hit Tyler Boyd with two touchdown passes, ran for a score and intercepted a pass for the Bears.
“Where he does cause problems is his ability to extend plays,” Armstrong said. “He’s a lot like the big-play quarterbacks in college or Ben Roethlisberger, who do that.”
Talerico finished 17-for-36 for 223 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.
Riverside lost four turnovers but did not force any.
Clairton’s comeback was the biggest in state championship game history.
Susquehanna’s 9-2 season and trip to the District 2 Class AA semifinals allowed the Sabers to finish the season as one of the honorable mention teams that were selected along with the top 10 in the state in each class by www.rodfrisco.com.
The state finals bring an end to the high school season and our weekly high school football predictions for this year. We went 1-0 last week, 14-5 (73.7 percent) during the playoffs and 104-33 (75.8 percent) for the season.
Brittany Ely, a 5-foot-7 senior guard from Montrose, started eight of the first 10 games for the Wilkes University women’s basketball team.
Ely, who made 54 starts in her first three college seasons, is second on the team with 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. She also averages 4.1 points.
Wilkes took a 3-7 record into the semester break.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Lackawanna League Division 3 boys’ basketball season opens Wednesday with a game between last season’s top two teams.
Montrose won the division title with the help of a victory over Lackawanna Trail in the final of a three-way playoff to determine the first-half champion. The Meteors are home against the Lions in the opener.
In other opening games: Forest City is at Susquehanna, Elk Lake is at Blue Ridge and Lakeland is at Mountain View.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Brief Driving Career Of The Lynchburg Flash
Today's story is about the beginning and end of Harlow Reynold's driving career.
Harlow has been a well respected racing reporter since the early 1980s. His regular column is carried by his hometown newspaper in Lynchburg, Virginia, as well as many other local and national papers. Harlow became interested in racing as a child, but it wasn’t until the mid-70s, that he was able to put his dream into action.
David Pearson was his idol. Harlow owns one of Pearson’s old No. 21 race cars. It has been completely restored, and he drives it all over Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North and South Carolina, minus a muffler.
David Pearson, three-time NASCAR Cup champion and Harlow Reynolds.
The following story, about the brief and almost tragic racing career of Harlow was related to me by one of his friends, named Joe.
“Back in the mid-seventy's, four of us decided to fix up a ‘67 Ford Fairlane, painted and numbered 21, like the Wood Brothers car to race at Natural Bridge Speedway, a half-mile dirt track,” said Joe. “Our division couldn't run anything but a six cylinder motor, so we found a 240 motor (same motor UPS ran in their trucks). It was pretty worn out, but it stayed together.
“Our first race was going well until some drunk from Rockbridge that had a Dale Earnhardt attitude put our car up on the fence. That ended the day for us.
“This aggravated me so much I decided to have a talk with Mr. Mast (Rick Mast's dad), who was running the track at the time. I was hoping we could get this drunk off the track. When I went into the little office he had in the infield, I found one of the other local's by the name of Harold already there. It seems the drunk had wrecked his car also. Harold had his rug on which looked like somebody had shot a squirrel and placed it on top of his head.
“I was pretty mad when I went in there, but seeing Harold with this funky rug on was something. It was all I could do to keep a straight face and not laugh.
“Harold got madder and madder. He started shaking his head and the rug started slipping and turning until it was completely sideway's. It reminded me of a bat's wings. Even though I agreed with everything Harold said, I was thinking ‘Darn I wish I had a video camera’.
“Mr. Mast said he would tell "the drunk" he wasn't getting on the track if he showed up gassed again. The next week the drunk was back, all juiced up. Mr Mast came by and said, “Tell your driver to put his butt in the fence hard enough to kill the car and we will be rid of him.”
“Five laps into the race, the guy was put into the wall. He was so gassed that as soon as he climbed out of the car he fell on his face.
“After staggering around the track, he went up to the flagstand and informed Mr. Mast he was gonna get his gun and shoot all of us.
“He went to his pickup and came back with a gun, but the local sheriff's deputy handcuffed him and took him to the Cross Bar motel to sober up.
“The following week was the race Harlow made his driving debut. It started great until Harlow decided he could pass other cars on the bottom of the track. He soon found out this was a bad move, because no one was running down there and it was rough and rutted and he spun out. He threw it back in gear and spun out in the other direction. By then his car looked like a dust devil because so much dust was flying off the wheels. He finally got it righted and took off again. He made one lap, spun out again, and had the car spinning in a circle trying to get it right side-up.
“After this comedy show and finishing 5 laps down in a 6-lap race, Harlow told me I could drive the next week
“I told him, ‘nope’. I knew I couldn’t drive and there was no use for me to make a fool out of myself.
“That was the start and end of the Lynchburg Flash's driving career. I found out later on during one of our many beer joint trips that Harlow’s drinking buddies thought I was Ralph.
“Harlow had turned his car over on its top and told the police, his pal Ralph had been driving and had taken off running to the woods. Every time his buddies would see me they said, “How you doing Ralph.”
“Never a dull moment with the Lynchburg Flash.”
The December tire testing is over at Daytona International Speedway, and drivers talked about how smooth is was, and how they would probably be able to race at increased speeds. While this might sound all good, the Daytona Beach News Journal reported that with the cars being able to run closer together, there would also be more wrecks. More big wrecks.
“My opinion is it will probably increase the chances of more big ones,” Jamie McMurray said. “What fans don't see in the plate races is, we wreck about every lap. Something happens every lap that makes you flinch, makes you think 'I need to take a breath.' When you run really close together, it increases those chances.”
During the December 15-16 tire tests, speeds reached 197 miles per hour. NASCAR could mandate the use of a smaller restrictor-plate for the engines, but this is unlikely.
Kurt Busch suggested that the odds of mayhem, "definitely is increased."
“Mentally you're going to have to be that much sharper, that much more precise,” said Busch. “If you think you have a hole, you definitely need to be in it - somebody (else) is going to take it. Reaction time is going to be that much quicker. There's going to be bigger consequences when things are chosen in the wrong fashion.”
All teams in the Sprint Cup Series were invited, but only a few gave up vacation time to get a jump on February's Daytona 500.
Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burtonand Matt Kensethare the only Chase drivers that attended. Others included Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin,BradKeselowski,Jamie McMurray,Juan Pablo Montoya, David Ragan, Paul Menard, Casey Mears, Todd Bodine, Brian Keselowski, BobbyLabonte, Reed Sorenson,Trevor Bayneand Regan Smith.
Bayne is working with Wood Brothers Racing. Bill Elliotthasmoved from the Wood Brothers to the No. 09 Chevrolet at Phoenix Racing.
Ragan already has been on the new track after running a few laps in a passenger car a week ago.
“Daytona is going to be very smooth - three- or four-wide racing now,” he said. “It's going to be a different mentality than we have thought about there in the past. Daytona has always been about handling and managing your tires, but it's all going to be about speed.”
Every team is expected to return to Daytona for another test session, Jan. 20-22.
Racing Trivia Question. How many Cup championships does Bobby Labonte have?
Last Week’s Question: Which is the oldest track on the NASCAR Cup circuit? Answer. Martinsville, Virginia. The first race was held september 25, 1949.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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