Following a delay that wiped out the entire first half of the 2020 high school football season, Susquehanna and Montrose are scheduled to get underway by facing each other Saturday night.
The Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association decided in an August 5 meeting to postpone and shorten the Lackawanna Football Conference season.
Of the LFC's 20 teams, 17 went along with that plan. Abington Heights and Carbondale chose not to compete at all this fall. Riverside started on the first date that high school football was legal in the state.
Susquehanna and Montrose are among the 16 schools that are set to start this weekend. Valley View has another week before starting after declaring that interruptions in the preseason routine left the team unprepared to open against Delaware Valley. The game has been ruled a forfeit loss for the Cougars because they had enough legal practice dates to be playing.
Montrose will be playing under its fifth coach in six seasons.
Kerry Patton takes over for Bill Sandly, who replaced Steve Miller, who coached for two seasons after replacing Eric Nichols, who followed Lou Cella. Sandly and Nichols each held the position for just one season.
Patton will be making his high school head coaching debut on Opening Night.
"I've been playing football since I was about four years old," said Patton, who moved to Susquehanna County more than a decade ago. "I grew up in a football family. My father was a south Jersey and Philadelphia football coach."
Patton continued playing after high school at the Hargrave Military Academy, then Shepherd College.
Military commitments cut short Patton's first move into high school coaching as an assistant in New Jersey. He has experience as a youth coach in football, golf, baseball and softball.
Susquehanna returns several key players from a team that split its final six games following a 0-4 start in 2019 and made it to the District 2 Class 2A playoffs.
While rebuilding the interior line on both sides of the ball, the Sabers return their top six scorers, top five rushers, top three receivers and their two defensive all-stars.
Leading the way are Garrett Decker, a four-year defensive starter and the team's quarterback, and Gavin Baker, a two-way end. Both were first-team LFC Division 4 all-star choices by NEPAFootball.com last season.
Decker, a linebacker who has been the team's leading tackler since his freshman season, was the team's top passer last season along with its second-leading rusher and scorer.
Baker was the second-leading receiver despite missing nearly the first half of the season while recovering from a knee injury.
Calvin Scheideler is back at running back and safety. He received honorable mention from NEPAFootball.com as a running back after leading the Sabers in rushing and scoring.
Isaiah Rosa received honorable mention in the defensive line. He will start at guard this season and could also still see some duty defensively.
Jesse DeLousia, who finished third to Scheideler and Decker in both rushing and scoring, has also been spending some time at quarterback, giving the Sabers depth and options. Decker has played running back in the past and DeLousia can play as a wide receiver.
Spencer Beamer, Collin Smith, Layne Fisk, Cole Soden, Logan Hodge, Jon Sisler and Brad Cottrell also have experience.
Beamer led the team in receiving and returns as one wide receiver.
Smith, who started at tackle, moves to center and is also likely to add duties as a defensive tackle. Hodge, a two-way tackle, was a part-time starter on offense last season.
Fisk started defensively as a freshman and handled the team's kicking duties. He will be at cornerback and provide another option, along with Scheideler, at tailback.
Soden, who moves from the secondary to outside linebacker in the 4-4 defense, made some starts on both sides of the ball. He is working at the other receiver spot, along with Ryan Mills, a senior who has returned to football after playing soccer the past two seasons.
Sisler started at fullback and linebacker early in the 2019 season. Cottrell is also working at fullback as well as at defensive end, where he started at times last season.
Sebastyan Major is at guard where he was some playing time last season.
Jim Paynter moves from back-up tight end to take over a tackle position. He could also see a lot of action at defensive end.
Sophomore John Burns had appeared headed toward a starting spot in the line before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, causing him to miss the season.
Carson Williams is expected to join Decker at inside linebacker where Sisler could also be a factor.
DeLousia and Soden will handle the outside spots.
Mills takes over at a cornerback position.
With starts and stops to voluntary offseason workouts in reaction to COVID-19, as well as the late start of official practices, Sabers coach Kyle Cook had to make some concessions in his team's preparation.
"We simplified a lot," Cook said. "We're trying to get a base five or six plays because we had to do more fundamentals."
While Susquehanna works with a co-sponsorship of the sport with Blue Ridge, Montrose is continuing to work with Elk Lake after ending its brief inclusion of Mountain View in co-sponsorship.
Patton's connections in the Elk Lake School District have helped increase the number of players from there, but he credits his players with helping recruit their peers to add to the roster.
The Meteors are led by the return of first-team, all-star wide receiver Dominic Palmatier, who is likely to spend more time at running back.
Sophomore Gus Brown gained some experience last season as the back-up quarterback when the Meteors were going winless.
Logan McNamara and Hunter Birtch could also be part of the offensive backfield.
Senior Nikolas Canfield leads the offensive line where John Tyler, one of Elk Lake's top wrestlers last season as a freshman, could also make an impact.
Linebacker Derrick DeMann and free safety Cameron Johnson should be among the defensive leaders.
Patton did not want to reveal too much about the style of his team, which is a bit of a mystery to opponents, but said the Meteors will be "very unorthodox" on both offense and defense.
"Every day, these kids are moving forward," Patton said. "The growth that I've seen since we started summer conditioning July 6 is a 180 turnaround."
Susquehanna County's potent cross country programs had gained another competitive opportunity when the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association doubled the state championship berths available to District 2 runners in Class A for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
That opportunity went away Wednesday when the PIAA Board of Directors decided to go ahead with state championships this fall, but with more streamlined fields as a concession to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The pandemic caused the completion of the winter state championships and the entire spring season of the 2019-20 school year to be canceled. Ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 at first threatened the existence of, then altered the look of high school sports during this fall season.
The PIAA will allow only the team champion and best five other individuals from each district or subregional championship to advance to the state meet in Hershey. District 2 had been scheduled to get two teams and 10 individuals each in Class A boys and Class A girls.
What would have been fields of 20-22 teams plus 100-110 individuals in each of the six races – Class 3A, 2A and A for boys and girls – will now be 7-11 teams and 35-55 individuals.
There will be no chance for a district runner-up to prove itself in the state tournament in any fall sport this year. That adjustment allowed the PIAA to reduce the fields for its football, soccer, field hockey, girls' volleyball and girls' team tournaments.
There will also be less individuals advancing in golf and tennis.
The other part of the altered state tournament plans was moving up the state football tournament so that it can conclude Thanksgiving weekend. That will force district tournaments to be shortened in order to qualify teams for the state tournament.
For now, the changes only impact fall sports for this school year.
In golf, the PIAA has eliminated the East and West Regional, which were a step between district and state tournaments. It has also reduced each state individual tournament from two days to one, putting them on separate days to have less players on the course.
Instead of advancing six boys to the East Regional in Class 2A, District 2 will send four directly to the state tournament. The county golfers all compete in Class 2A.
There will still be two state qualifiers from the district in girls' golf.
The revised state competitions were just one part of Wednesday's meeting.
The board also decided to allow individual schools to determine how many spectators are allowed at sporting events.
"We're trying to ask schools to make their own individualize assessment and decision based on their legal advice and the decision making of their board," PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi said.
The board didn't vote on the issue, but made the decision after receiving legal advise.
There are still pending court actions, which could determine whether there are state-imposed restrictions on attendance at scholastic events.
Montrose reached the Lackawanna League Class 2A golf semifinals before being eliminated.
The Meteors downed visiting Dunmore, 6-3, in Thursday's quarterfinals before losing to unbeaten Lackawanna Division 3 champion Lackawanna Trail, 8 ½-½, Saturday.
Andrew Dovin halved the second singles to help Montrose avoid the shutout in the match at Tall Pines.
Blue Ridge also reached the district tournament, but the Raiders lost, 9-0, to defending champion Scranton Prep in the quarterfinals. Scranton Prep finished second in the state in Class 2A each of the past two seasons and went unbeaten this season despite a move up to Lackawanna Division 1 for the regular season.
Montrose had won the Lackawanna Division 4 title. The final division standings: Montrose 6-0, Blue Ridge 4-2, Elk Lake 1-5, Mountain View 1-5.
In cross country, Elk Lake finished third out of six Class A boys' teams in the PIAA Foundation Meet Saturday on Hershey's Parkview Course.
The race annually gives potential state meet qualifiers a chance to test themselves on the course where state titles will be decided.
Elk Lake sophomore Dylan Way completed the 3.1-mile course in 18:54 to place 10th out of 56 runners.
Justice Johnson and Jeremy Quinnan, the only senior to run for Elk Lake, were five seconds behind, taking the next two spots in the race.
Marty Cannella, a freshman, was 36th and Matt Miller was 47th.
The meet consisted of groups of 28 runners starting every 15 minutes, then times being compared to determine placing within each classification.
Elk Lake and Montrose were 2-0 heading into their scheduled meet Tuesday and part of a three-way tie with Susquehanna for the Lackawanna Division 2 boys' lead.
In boys' soccer, Mountain View won a pair of Lackawanna Division 2 games from Lakeland, 3-1 and 2-0.
The Eagles are 4-0 to lead the division. The shutout was their first after giving up one goal to each of their first three opponents.
Elk Lake swept a home-and-home series with Mid Valley, 9-1 and 7-0.
The Warriors lead Lackawanna Division 3 at 4-0 and have outscored opponents, 19-2.
In girls' soccer, Montrose beat Mountain View twice, 2-1 and 4-1, to remain unbeaten and tied for the Lackawanna Division 2 lead with Lakeland.
Elk Lake dropped a 3-2 decision to Holy Cross, then shut out West Scranton, 1-0.
The Lady Warriors are 3-1 and are the only Lackawanna Division 3 team with a win, giving them a two-game lead.
In girls' volleyball, Mountain View defeated Montrose in five sets Sept. 22 before losing to Division 1 member Lackawanna Trail two days later.
The Lady Eagles are 2-2 to lead Division 2.
Susquehanna takes a four-game winning streak over its rival into Saturday night's Battle for the Bluestone game between Susquehanna County's only two high school football teams.
The game will be played Saturday at 7pm at Montrose's Ambrose Mullen Stadium.
Susquehanna has won 10 of the last 11 meetings in the series.
The level of the Sabers' dominance is dependent on how far back one chooses to go in assessing the rivalry.
Susquehanna is 7-1 since the creation of the Bluestone Trophy in time for the 2012 game.
The Sabers are 30-14-1 in the modern era. Susquehanna restarted football in 1970 and Montrose joined in for the 1973 season, beginning what has been an annual game with the exception of the 1986 and 1987 seasons.
Counting four meetings between Susquehanna and Montrose between 1919 and 1931, the series stands at 32-16-1.
One player in Saturday night's game will be honored with the sixth annual Thomas E. Robinson Memorial Award, which is presented to the player in the Susquehanna-Montrose game who best combines outstanding play with showing respect for opponents and officials.
Two players in the game have a chance to earn the award for the second time.
Baker became the second sophomore to land the honor when he received the honor in 2018. Susquehanna teammate Decker was selected last season.
Montrose sophomore lineman Seth Bulkley was the first recipient of the award in 2015 in the last win by the Meteors, 3-0.
Susquehanna's Kyle Donovan and Adam Roe were selected the next two seasons.
Once again this season, we will predict the outcome of games involving Lackawanna Football Conference teams. Last season's predictions were 87-27 (76.3 percent) in the regular season and 103-33 (75.7 percent) overall.
Other than Riverside's 0-3 start in non-league play, LFC action begins this week.
This week's predictions with home teams in CAPS: Susquehanna 31, MONTROSE 20 … OLD FORGE 32, Riverside 21 … LACKAWANNA TRAIL 49, Holy Cross 0 … LAKELAND 22, Mid Valley 6 … SCRANTON 24, North Pocono 22 … Scranton Prep 41, HONESDALE 22 … WESTERN WAYNE 43, West Scranton 14 … Dunmore 28, WALLENPAUPACK 24 … La Salle College High 30, DELAWARE VALLEY 26.
In golf, the District 2 team championships are scheduled for Friday at Fox Hill Country Club. Elk Lake, if it gets through the Lackawanna League qualifier, will be trying to defend its District 2 Class 2A title.
The District 2 Individual Championships are Monday, Oct. 5 at Elkview Country Club. Elk Lake's Chloe Sipe was the only county golfer to make it through league qualifying and reach the tournament.
In girls' soccer, Montrose is at Lakeland Monday, Oct. 5 in a meeting of the teams that began this week tied for first in Lackawanna League Division 2 with 5-0 records.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com or followed on Twitter at @tomjrobinson.
King of the Can Weekend is upon us with several high paying prize purses and thousands of dollars available in lap money and finish position bonuses up for grabs throughout the weekend. With five divisions on the card Friday night, as well as Modified practice and match racing action, a large crowd sat in eager anticipation. The pits were jam packed with cars everywhere, even out to the entrance of the pit area. Track regulars and invaders alike vied for the coveted seat upon the Golden Throne and the title King of the Can.
Coming from deep in the field AJ Miller picked up the win in Friday night's main event the 602 GRIT series Crate Sportsman show. It was an action-packed feature with multiple lead changes throughout the race. With 60 plus sportsman signed in it was going to be a tough challenge for drivers to make the field. Penn Can speedway regulars Randy Brokaw and Alan Komar brought the field of 26 star drivers to the green. The first green would be called a no start as a loose Brokaw got into 2020 Track Champion Jimmy Zacharias and the lineup was reset. The second try at the start saw a nasty pileup in turn two including Dale Welty, Tyler Johnston, Todd Titus, Bob Butcher and Andrew Smith. Titus would head pit side as all others pulled away. Try three at the start would see Komar and Brett Tonkin hooked together, their loss of momentum led to a pileup including Johnston, Butcher, Komar, Welty, Zacharias, Tonkin, Randy Gates and Frank Payne.
The lap would be counted this time as a lap one restart put Mike Schane out front as Brokaw and Gary Smith took up the fight for second. Smith would work the outside on lap 4 as he completed the pass on Brokaw, Isabel Barron and AJ Miller were right behind fighting for fifth as Miller would use the low line to take the spot. Lap 7 would again slow the field as Johnston went around on the backstretch. Schane would get the jump on the restart as Brokaw and Smith continued their fight in second. Mike Nagel Jr. and Rich Talada were getting at it for fifth when Reynolds, Miller, Andrew Smith, and Johnston took it four wide. In the shuffle Miller and Reynolds came out fighting for fourth as Nagel and Talada followed. Farther back Danny Creeden had managed to crack the top 10 after what had been a rough start for the driver. Slicing and dicing his way up Miller advanced to third as the yellow flew to clear debris in turn 3.
Lap 10 had Schane getting the jump on Brokaw while a good battle for fourth saw Reynolds working Nagel's inside. It wouldn't last as lap 11 Talada and Rohner tangled on the backstretch and Will shields slowed in turn 3. Schane again had Brokaw's number on the restart as Leonard came under fire from Travis Green for fourth. The halfway running order of Schane, Browkaw, Miller, Gary Smith and Nagel would hold until a lap 17 caution for Creeden spinning in turn 3. Schane took the restart over Brokaw when Green, Danielle Thomas and Welty tangled. The restart would not go well for Schane as heavy contact from he and Miller going for the same real estate sent Schane, Reynolds and Andrew Smith pit side. The same lap caution saw Travis Green and Reynolds spin in turn 4. Schane would not return however as Miller moved into the lead with Gary Smith to his outside. Smith would take the lead on the restart as Rohner and Matt Brewer fought for fourth and Nagel held third. The field would finally get into a rhythm as Gary Smith held the lead and Johnston moved past Rohner for sixth. The lead fight would see Gary Smith and Miller door to door, lap after lap until a lap 24 caution for debris setup another double file restart.
Smith would elect for the outside on the restart as Tommy Collins worked past Rohner for the sixth spot and Johnston looked to take both competitors 3 wide. With 5 to go the same battles continued before a lap 26 caution slowed the field a final time. The Butcher and Seth Zacharias spin would setup a four-lap shootout With Miller taking away Smith's preferred highline the two cars would battle it out down to the wire. Miller would cross the line first with Smith, Johnston, Nagel and Collins rounding out the top 5. Post-race Miller was still in disbelief stating the King of the Can win is the biggest of his career. The young driver feels he has proven himself with Schane and the other track veterans and worked hard to stay with Smith on the restarts. Miller didn't have a preferred line with his crew putting together an excellent car that would allow him to run anywhere on the track. Miller said it felt good knowing that with a 62-car field his was the best and could get the win. With the win Miller now has a guaranteed starting spot for the GRIT winter nationals in Florida but is currently unsure if he will be attending. Miller would like to thank his sponsors Sowle Hardware, DIG Race Products, Pioneer Windows, Built Lake Homes, N.H. Kelman, and Kennedy Architectural. Special thanks to his Crew, Girlfriend, Dale and Brandon Plank. Miller dedicated this win to his Grandmother who is currently battling cancer and we all hope for a thorough and speedy recovery.
Steven Deinhardt took up his second stay on the golden toilet winning the Mike Petrilak Memorial street stock event in a nail biter over Shane Wolf Jr. The 22-lap event celebrating Mike Petrilak and his number 2 car was brought to green by Luke Boom and CJ Guererri with Boom holding the lap one lead. A ferocious battle for the podium quickly saw Wolf Jr, John Carpenter and Guererri fighting for second through fourth. Wolf would emerge to challenge and take the lead from Boom. He would get no respite however as Carpenter immediately challenged Boom for second. Right behind Doug Polhamus and Tyler Yeagle fought it out for fifth before the first yellow came out for Shawn Boynton heading pit side. The quick lap 4 restart would see Wolf get the jump on Carpenter with a top 5 forming of Wolf, Carpenter, Boom, Polhamus and Deinhardt. Deinhardt would go after Polhamus for fourth completing the pass and opening the door for Lanson Albanese to challenge Polhamus. A pileup in turn 4 would collect Doug Stack Sr, Butch Green, Mike Stoddard, Eric Beach, Aaron Miller, and Gary Roberts.
Lap 8's double file restart wouldn't go well as Wolf led Carpenter into turn one and some contact int the top 5 led to a huge pileup including Carpenter, Yeagle, Miller, Beach, Kyle Stark, and Abe Rohanik. The restart saw some intense battles throughout the top 5 before Rich Sharpsteen and Rohanik tangled bringing out yet another yellow. The restart had Wolf powering around the high side to stay in front of Dinehardt as Travis Brockner and Gene Sharpsteen fought for sixth. Lap 10 saw Green, Decker and Stoddard collected as the yellow came out. Another caution led the field past halfway and a single file restart followed. Polhamus and Boom would pickup the fight for fourth as Wolf took off on the highline and by lap 14 would catch the tail of the field. Five to go the caution flies for a stopped Brockner on the backstretch. Two to go and while Dinehardt and Wolf fought for the lead the red flag flew as Dusty Decker's machine flipped twice into the outside wall between turns 1 and 2. The driver emerged and gave the all good with the excellent assistance of the hardworking and busy safety crew. After the debris was cleared Deinhardt would win the restart as he and Wolf put on an amazing show up front. As the leaders came out of four the cars were dead even and Deinhardt would close the distance faster beating wolf by less than a quarter car length.
An ecstatic Deinhardt pulled into Victory Lane celebrating a huge win in one of the best races at the speedway this year and an all-time great moment. Wolf and Deinhardt embraced in Victory Lane. Post-race Deinhardt mentioned that battle was one of the best he's ever had. He and Wolf were both able to make every line work well in a show that wowed the crowd. His second Golden Toilet was a well-earned win and he wanted to thank his awesome Wife, Matt and the rest of his crew, Dad and CJ for his tires and all their support of him. This win means a lot to him as he was a fan of Mike Petrilak throughout his career. Deinhardt would also like to thank sponsors: Winsor Acres, Paige Smith Logging and Excavating, Team Jackson, Smith Logging, Cook Bros. Trucking, TPH Construction, KJ Industries, Wheeler's excavating, DIG Race Products, Wind Swept Heating Oil, and Deckelman Trucking. Thank you to Pop's Automotive for their $100 sponsorship to the feature winner.
Brett Gray is no stranger to victory lane at the Penn Can speedway and the GRIT 600cc Modified feature proved to be no different Friday night. The 24-car field was led to green by Jared Green and Stanley Matthews with Green holding the top spot at the completion of lap one. The opening laps would be action packed as Gray began to challenge Green for the lead. Lap 3 would see Gray complete the pass over Green for the lead while a little bit farther back Casey Plummer and Chuck Lohmeyer battled for fifth. Gray would open up his lead as Bretton Miller went to work on Green for the second spot and Adam Mudge joined the battle with Lohmeyer for fifth. By lap five Miller would move into second behind Gray, with Green, Alex Tonkin, Plummer and Lohmeyer holding the top 5 positions. By lap 8 Gray would catch the end of the field as the leaders began to work lapped traffic on the long green flag run.
Ali Scutt slowing to a stop in turn 2 would bring out the first caution and regroup the field for a double file restart. Gray would get the jump over Miller as the two went door to door. Right behind a frisky competition brewed for third as Plummer, Green, Tonkin and Lohmeyer went four wide. It wouldn't hold out for long however as Mathews would come to a stop in turn 2 and Green would slow on the backstretch bringing the field to a second yellow on lap 15. With the GRIT series rulebook in effect all restarts come with a double file format keeping life just a little more interesting for leader Gray. Post-race he stated "the cooling of the tires on those cautions at the end got me loose and I had a hard time getting back going on the restarts". Gray would again hold the lead over Miller as the field came back up to speed with Tonkin challenging Miller for second. The two drivers' battling would slow them enough for Lohmeyer to join the fray before a lap 16 caution for the stopped car of John Groover on the front stretch.
Gray would find a new dancing partner on the front row as he and Tonkin led the field back to green. Gray would hit the restart well as he held the lead and Lohmeyer and Miller went to work on Tonkin for second. Tonkin would lose ground and come under fire from Plummer for fourth as Lohmeyer and Miller continued to fight for second. They'd fight it out all the way to the line as Gray picked up the win chased by Miller, Lohmeyer, Tonkin, and Plummer following. Gray praised the track and the job done by the Folk family to provide a great racing surface all season. He said it was great competition with both Lohmeyer and Tonkin being fast all night and Miller always looking to beat him. Special thanks to the Stark family for their work with the GRIT series. Gray will look to make the trip to Florida in February for the series' winter nationals. Gray would also like to thank the flaggers and staff for their efforts throughout the season. He appreciates his stay on the golden toilet as it's good to be the king. GRIT series champion Jared Green was somber in his interview saying that they battled car troubles all night making it hard to really enjoy the moment. The driver will be attending the Winter Nationals with both Gray and Miller as all three are locked in however Green doesn't' yet know if it will be in his 600 or the sportsman division.
The Stafursky NAPA front wheel drive 4-cylinder division brought Matt Browning to Victory Lane for a seat on the golden toilet. A strong front row Browning and Nick Kennedy brought the field out of turn 4 as Kennedy quickly went to work on the high side. Deep in the pack Rich Wagner, Mike Ferris and Brian Salmini swapped the eighth spot as farther ahead Phil Burns and Brian Gregory tussled for third. Browning and Kennedy would remain door to door for the lead until a lap 5 caution slowed the field. DJ Fox stopped on the backstretch as the restart would again see Browning and Kennedy get at it. Kennedy would take the lead while Adam Delgrosso and Burns swapped racing for third. Ferris and Kevin Whitman were fighting for sixth when Wagner's car caught fire coming to a stop in turn four and leading to a lap 7 restart.
Kennedy would get the jump on the restart as Burns challenged Browning for second and Delgrosso battled Whitman for fourth. A huge pileup in turn 1 including Freddy Velez, Dave Donovan, Phil Clapper, Salmini and Jeff Degroat would lead to a lap 10 restart with 5 to go. Kennedy would again hold the lead over Browning as Ferris and Burns went side by side for third. Kennedy would turn the lead over to Browning as the two approached lap traffic on lap 12 while Don Doster, 2020 Champion Josh Wilder and Jeff Stirling fought for tenth. Kennedy and Browning would battle it out the rest of the way to the checkers. Browning said Kennedy was great competition and that his car was hammer down all night long. He was able to work the bottom very well and that was key as Nick was fast up top. It was his first King of the Can victory and he would like to thank all of his family, friends and sponsors. Browning coming home first followed by Kennedy, Delgrosso, Burns and Ferris.
An abbreviated win came for Kevin Garland in the Stafursky NAPA open four-cylinder class to end the night. Rich Conte and Nick Kennedy paced the field as Conte got the jump and led lap one. Shane Moshier and Dante Moncuso were locked in a battle with Garland and Eric Ellsworth for top five spots behind the leaders. A quick lap 3 caution would see contact as Moshier went around in turn 1. The restart had Conte and Moncuso going at it with Conte holding the lead and Garland battling Randy Mathews for third. Moshier, Mathews and Ellsworth turned up the heat in an intense battle for fifth as Garland moved into first. The leader would hit lapped traffic at lap 9 and work through it with ease. The red flag would cut through the air as a scary crash between Nick Kennedy and Shane Moshier happened at the end of the straightaway. A full speed Kennedy hit the rear of a stopped Moshier. Kennedy was announced responsive and assisted from his car before being taken to the hospital for evaluation. Talking with Kennedy Saturday the driver said he was feeling very sore but was otherwise okay with no long-term injuries. It was a somber interview for winner Kevin Garland however he expressed concern for Nick and thanked the Folk family for adding the open 4 cylinders to the night. A thank you to Josh Wilder, D & N Waffles, Rich Wagner, and Wolf PAK Race Team for their sponsorships of position money for the 4-cylinder divisions.
The Stafursky's Paving Modified match race for $500 was led off by Tyler Dippel and Cory Cormier with Dippel going on to beat Marshall Hurd, and Marc Goodwin. Trouble would arrive for Dippel however when he chose the 133 of Kevin Hartnett. Hartnett would beat Dippel to the line before choosing Alan Rudalavadge. Slight contact in turn two would see Hartnett fall behind as Rudalavadge beat him back to the line. Rudalavadge would hang on from there beating Andy Bachetti, Billy Pauch Jr, 2020 Track Champion Brett Tonkin, Alex Stanton, Danny Creeden, Jacob Dgien, 80 (unknown), Leo McGurrin, and Aleia Geisler.
In another thrilling feature for the Junior division Josh Landers passed Liam Jackson for the win on the last lap with the main event. A big thank you to Brad Tokarz Grandma Houghton, and DJ Dave for their sponsorships of the Junior Division for King of the Can Weekend.
King of the Can weekend will wrap up tomorrow night with the running of the 55 lap $5,555 to win Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series fueled by SUNOCO King of the Can Main Event. Also, in action will be huge shows for the IMCA Modifieds, Factory Stocks and Vintage tours. General Admission $20 with pit admission $40. Hot Laps at 5:15 and racing action to follow. Come out for a great night of racing as we wrap up the 2020 season!
Following are the top ten racing results at PennCan Speedway on Friday, September 25.
Modified Match Race: 1) Alan Rudalvage.
Grit 602 Crate Sportsman: 1) Aj Miller; 2) Gary Smith; 3) Tyler Johnston; 4) Mike Nagle Jr.; 5) Tommy Collins; 6) Jimmy Zacharias; 7) Matt Brewer; 8) Danny Creeden; 9) Randy Brokaw; 10) Clinton Mills.
Street Stocks: Steven Deinhardt; 2) Shane Wolf Jr.; 3) Lanson Albanese; 4) Luke Boom; 5) Doug Stack Jr.; 6) Tyler Yeagle; 7) Doug Polhamas; 8) Doug Stack Sr.; 9) Gene Sharpsteen; 10) Damon Decker.
Grit 600cc Modifieds: 1) Brett Grey; 2) Bretton Miller; 3) Chuck Lohmeyer; 4) Alex Tonkin; 5) Casey Plummer; 6) Adam Mudge; 7) Doug Lattner; 8) Ely Ashkar; 9) Tyler Smith; 10) Nolan Smith.
Fwd 4 Cylinders: 1) Matt Browning; 2) Nick Kennedy; 3) Adam Delgresso; 4) Phil Burns; 5) Mike Ferris; 6) Scott Miller; 7) Ken Evans; 8) Josh Wilder; 9) Jeff Sterling; 10) Dave Simms.
Open 4 Cylinders: 1) Kevin Garland; 2) Dante Moncuso; 3) Josh Wilder; 4) Rich Conte; 5) Mike Brown; 6) Randy Mathews; 7) Brett Nelly; 8) Eric Ellsworth; 9) Shawn Gowin; 10) Mike Navone.
Junior Division: 1) Josh Landers; 2) Liam Jackson; 3) Frank Twing; 4) Trevor Houghton; 5) Avery Decker; 6) Jakoby Thompson.
With the second night of King of the Can racing completed, people will be talking about this night for a long time to come. New and old came together tonight as the Short Track Super Series and Mohawk Valley Vintage series ran the biggest race of the Penn Can season. Also fighting to sit on the Golden Throne and to be named King of the Can were the IMCA Modifieds and Factory stock classes. The night was anything but disappointing as we saw the drama unfold, tensions ran high, tempers flared and a plot twist ending to an action-packed night.
In a much-anticipated event, the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series fueled by SUNOCO made a night no one will soon forget. Andy Bachetti and Casey Plummer led the stacked and power packed field of 27 cars of roaring Modifieds. As the green flag danced through the air the 4 car of Bachetti jumped to an early lead as he left behind Plummer and track regular Alan Rudalavage to battle for second. Rudalavage took over the second-place spot as Stewart Friesen followed Rudalavage on the inside line and both slipped past Plummer. Plummer was also quickly passed by Matt Sheppard. Nick Rochinski would step up to challenge Rudalavage for the second-place spot as Billy Pauch Jr. would battle with Plummer for the ninth position. Rochinski would move up to second as the first caution of the night would come on lap 7 with Cory Costa and David Schilling spinning in turn 4. On the restart Bachetti and Rochinski would lead the pack with Bachetti taking the jump on the lead. However, Rudalavage saw an opportunity on the inside line to get around the 20R car of Rochinski. The move would not stick as a caution came out before a lap was completed, the 77 of Plummer had slowed on the back stretch due to a right rear flat. Bachetti took to lead off the restart leaving Rochinski to follow, right behind the leaders were Rudalavage, Friesen and Sheppard going 3 wide in a battle for the third-place spot.
Further back in the pack would see Outlaw regular and promotor Tyler Siri and the 99L of Larry Wight tussle for the ninth spot. With several battles going on up front the majority of the crowd was watching Friesen and Rudalavage battle for third. Lap nine would see a caution as another Penn Can regular Mike Loney, Josh Nobriga, and Craig Hanson would spin out in turn 4, the crowd would also see track regular Byron Worthing head pit side. Bachetti would lead off the restart while Tonkin, Rudalavage, Friesen and Sheppard would battle it out for third, with Sheppard winning the battle. Friesen started looking to the low line to get around Sheppard but before he could make a move a caution came out on lap 12. Previous track champion Brian Malcom, Plummer and Eric Leet had collided in turn four by the inside wall. Off the restart, the caution was thrown for Costa, Malcom, Pauch Jr., Plummer, Danny Creeden, Hanson, and Loney who all get tangled in turn one. With a single file restart coming in to play, Bachetti would lead with Friesen and Sheppard battling hard for third as Sheppard used the high line getting the run on Friesen to take third.
A little further back Rudalavage and Billy Decker battled it out, Decker would move into the fifth position using the inside line. Rudalavage would attempt to hold on battling with STSS regular Tyler Dipple for the sixth position, Dipple took the position from Rudalavage. Leet would head pit side with a caution coming out on lap 17 for local driver Kevin Hartnett slowing in turn four. On the restart, Bachetti and Rochinski set the front row with Bachetti, Rochinski and Sheppard taking it 3 wide for the lead, but Bachetti would quickly capitalize on his momentum vaulting him ahead to maintain the top spot. Sheppard and Rochinski were left to duke it out door to door for second. Sheppard would attempt to move into the second position when a caution came out for a slowing Rudalavage on the back stretch with a flat tire on lap 18. The restart would again see Bachetti and Rochinski on the restart with Sheppard and Rochinski again battling door to door. Rochinski's momentum couldn't hold Superman back this time as Sheppard took away the second spot. Behind Bachetti and Sheppard was a battle for third between Rochinski and Friesen, another battle between Wight and Mike Gular for seventh, and Alan Barker and Hanson battling for tenth. On lap 26 a caution would be thrown for Loney and Plummer spinning in the corner of turn four. The restart would see the Bachetti take off for the lead with Sheppard hot on his tail, but Rochinski would soon join the mix as he went door to door with Sheppard for again for second place spot and took it back from the driver of the 9S.
As Bachetti pulled away from the group, Decker would look to the inside of Friesen to try and take fourth place and further back would be Wight and Barker fighting hard for ninth. Wight would take the ninth spot temporarily with Barker coming back to trade paint and eventually taking the position. Friesen would look to the outside of Sheppard for third while Bachetti would catch up with the tail of the field. Lap 36 would bring a caution for a car stopped on pit road after attempting to exit the racing surface. Bachetti and Rochinski would lead the field to the green with Rochinski looking to the inside of Bachetti but would fail to make a move. Sheppard would make his move instead as he slid pass Rochinski for second while Creeden and Barker would duel for tenth. With Creeden moving into tenth, a few positions ahead of him would see Danny Johnson and Wight battle for eighth while the leaders hit lapped traffic. Lap 49 would bring about a caution, as Siri was stopped in turn 3, Joe Judge would slow on the front stretch and Wight would head to the pits for a flat tire. Leading the field was Bachetti and Sheppard, but on the restart the crowd would be on their feet as Bachetti, Friesen and Sheppard went 3 wide for the lead. Sheppard quickly dropped back and was battling Rochinski for third. Bachetti and Friesen went door to door with four to go, then suddenly on the next lap Friesen looked to the inside of Bachetti to take the lead. Friesen would be announced King of the Can and STSS North Champion. Andy Bachetti, Nick Rochinski, Matt Sheppard, and Mike Gular rounded out the top five.
When asked about how he felt about his positions in the heat and feature, Friesen said, "We had a great draw when we got here and a great 5th place re-draw." Friesen also is fortunate enough to run the Gander Outdoor NASCAR Truck series, who raced Friday evening out in Las Vegas. He stated that he placed 4th out there and had not slept since Thursday. Starting in fifth, Friesen knew it was a race where he had to conserve tires. "At the start it was pretty narrow as far as lanes go, but as the night went on it started opening up," Friesen said when asked about track conditions. Bachetti had led majority of the laps and when asked about his final move he had said "I had a line on Andy and had to get moving." Being announced as STSS North Champion came as a shock to Friesen, he was 18 points out of first and he beat Mike Gular by only two points. Friesen would like to thank Halmar International, Bart Contracting, his crew chief Tommy and Berkie.
In a special visit to the speedway the IMCA Modified appearance did not disappoint. Front row Bumps Scutt and Brad Smith brought the field to green for a rough start that involved Shawn Bruce, Tyler Stoddard, Rick Watt, and Bob Maynard spinning in turn 4. The second attempt would run smoother as Smith took the lead and would take the first two circuits as Scutt and Matt Roberts fought for second. Roberts would take the spot as Scutt lost another to Keith Lamphere took third. Lap 3 caution for Jeff Austin spinning in turn 4. Smith would hit his restart well, but Roberts would use the high side momentum down the backstretch to pass Smith and take the lead. A hiccup would send Roberts back to fourth as Scutt and Rodney Morgan slipped past while fighting for what would have been third. Scutt would take second moving Morgan to third. Before a lap 7 caution had Mark Griffin spinning.
The restart would see Morgan use the inside to take away second before a second spin for Austin and Gary Lamphere again slowed the field. Smith would get the restart jump over Morgan as Roberts and Keith Lamphere took Morgan 3 wide for second. The drivers would be slowed by a Watt and Kevin Smith collision in turn 1. On the restart AJ Hunsinger would move back to fifth after getting loose on the outside and the field would slow again by lap 14. Sonny Terry and Shawn Bruce would be the cause of that final caution as the restart saw Smith get a good jump, he would work through lapped traffic in the closing laps and used the slower cars to perfection as he fended off a challenge from Bumps Scutt who was working the high line. The loss of momentum would kill Scutt's chances as the field crossed the line with Smith collecting the trophy followed by Morgan, Keith Lamphere, Scutt and Matt Roberts.
It was an up and down night for Smith as he climbed out of his torn-up factory stock not even 20 minutes after winning the IMCA feature. With an assorted field of IMCA drivers from tracks all over the region Smith picked up his first King of the Can win. He noted how on the restarts the bottom and middle lanes would get a really good jump but then the top would close the gap out of the corners and on to the straights. He was prepared for a very dry slick track but was pleasantly surprised to find the track still had lots of bite. Smith appreciated the good clean racing with Roberts who made it past him and the two swapped spots more than once. Smith would like to give special thanks to Shannon Oswald, his daughter, Lethal Chassis, Penske Shocks, CPT Racing, and the entire Folk family for inviting the IMCA division to Penn Can Speedway.
With the 2020 King of the Can title on the line and a hungry field of 26 cars the Factory Stock main event rolled to the starting grid. Mike Morse and Scottish Brown Jr. charged out of turn four to take the green in what would be called a no start. Shawn Sabo, and Brad Smith collided in turn 2 as Smith left on the hook and another collision followed for Stanley Mathews and Mike Chilson tangling in about the same spot. Try three would be successful as Nick Stark would take the lead over Mike Morse on the attempt. Lap 2 had Ray Lindquist and Brad Smith fighting for sixth with Lindquist taking the position. Morse would use some early lapped traffic to keep Brown behind him as Nick Stark would look inside Morse for the lead on lap 3 but would not get the job done. Morse would really start to work the bottom as the race entered the midway point with Morse, Stark, Lindquist, Buck Mills Sr, and Jeredd Dennis holding the top 5 positions.
Josh Towner would slow on the backstretch concluding what has been a good season for the 9x car and setting up a lap 12 restart. A good battle for ninth had Justin Slezak and Kevin MacDonald in a dogfight for ninth as Slezak looked right at home on the high line. Farther ahead Buck Mills Sr took second away from Lindquist and the field was slowed for a lap 14 yellow. The spin between Dylan Eaton and Sabo would not draw a yellow as track champion Tommy Groover looked inside of Slezak for seventh. Lindquist and Mills Sr. battled hard for second as Morse began to gain ground on his lead. Eaton and Mike Chilson would make contact bringing out the lap 16 yellow. The restart action saw Groover and Buck Mills Jr. fighting for seventh. The final caution of the night had Dennis spinning in turn 4 and Morse checking out on the two to go single file restart to collect the win. Mills Sr. Stark, Lindquist and Groover rounded out your top 5.
Mike Morse is no stranger to post race interviews as he has 26 feature wins with his current car. Morse was surprised to find the track still had bite with the Factory Stocks running at the end of the night. It was an incredible night for Morse as his first Penn Can win being a King of the Can title. Morse had many people to thank including Butch, Donnie, Austin, Ryan, Michael, Earl, Roger, Ron and sponsors Graves Trucking, Seeley Engines, Beebe's Farm, Beyea Headers, MR Grafix, Stryker Fabrication, and Zimmer and Son Logging and Firewood.
The Seward Rice Memorial for Mohawk Valley Vintage Modifieds saw some good racing in the Modified division as winner John Flach parked his 22 machine in Victory Lane. With only 2 laps remaining in their 15-lap main event the late model division lead changed hands as race winner Curtis Crandon's 7 passed the 28 on the inside. It was a great night of racing and a unique experience for race fans to reminisce over the older body styles and the memories they have of the legends who ran them.
With each King of the Can announced and after a thrilling show, we all at the Penn Can Speedway would like to thank all of those involved. Brett Deyo and the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series put on an amazing show in front of a standing room only capacity crowd. There were several moments were the crowd was on their feet and some moments that had us all holding our breath. Each division certainly did not disappoint when it came to battling for position. It was a great racing weekend with events fans will talk about for years to come. We would like to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support and all lap and finishing position sponsors for their efforts. Your help and support make King of the Can weekend possible. The roar of Penn Can speedway's feature division will be heard one final time in 2020 as we will be back racing on Friday, October 3rd for the last race of the season. It will be a 45 lap Modified Race with $4,500 to win and $400 to take the green.
Following are the top ten racing results at PennCan Speedway on Saturday, September 26.
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco: 1) Stewart Friesen; 2) Andy Bachetti; 3) Nick Rochinski; 4) Matt Sheppard; 5) Mike Gular; 6) Billy Decker; 7) Billy Dipple; 8) Danny Creeden; 9) Danny Johnson; 10) Craig Hanson.
IMCA: 1) Brad Smith; 2) Rodney Morgan; 3) Keith Lamphere; 4) Bumps Scutt; 5) Matt Roberts; 6) Jake Maynard; 7) Logan Terry; 8) Ray McClure; 9) Mark Griffin; 10) AJ Hunsinger.
Factory Stock: 1) Mike Morse; 2) Buck Mills Sr.; 3) Nick Stark; 4) Ray Lindquist; 5) Tommy Groover; 6) Justin Slezak; 7) Kevin MacDonald; 8) Mike Spencer; 9) Ryan Brockner; 10) Tim Parker.