Sabers fill big shoes

BY JOBY FAWCETT, Times-Shamrock Writer

Susquehanna quarterback Sean Stanley, right, practices handoffs with fullback Jesse Pruitt on Wednesday. TIMES-SHAMROCK PHOTO/JOBY FAWCETT

Last year, Susquehanna revitalized its football program, uplifting a community by celebrating a division championship.

This summer, the challenge is to stay at the top despite losing several standouts to graduation.

“We have a lot to fulfill this season after losing so many people,” Susquehanna senior quarterback Sean Stanley said. “I feel we have replaced those spots pretty well and we are going to have a pretty good season.”

After going more than 20 years without a football title and enduring a 34-game losing streak, the Sabers won the Lackawanna Football Conference DivisionIIIcrown. And they did so with quarterback Dan Kempa leading the way, finishing his career with more than 3,000 rushing yards and more than 1,700 passing.

Stanleyis accepting the responsibility of replacing the All-Region player.

During practice Wednesday, he displayed a strong and accurate arm, and ran the triple veer-option offense with precision and speed.

“We have all been working so hard this summer,” said Stanley, who was a member of theBlue Ridge400-meter relay team that qualified for the PIAA Track and Field Championships in the spring.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun taking over for Danny. I know a lot of people are going to miss him, but we have to start fresh.”

One of Susquehanna’s strengths that will ease the transistion toStanleywill be in the backfield. Greg Price is a shifty tailback and Jessie Pruitt is a powerful fullback who coach Dick Bagnall called the key to the offense.

“I like that,” Pruitt said. “It’s a big responsibility and I like having responsibility. You get tackled a lot (at fullback). You don’t get the ball a lot. You have to carry out the fakes and make the offense good. Once you get the ball, you have to run hard.”

Bagnall said the Sabers lost seven players to graduation after last season, but still hope to have a competitive season.

“Every team we play will be tough,” Bagnall said. “Lackawanna Trail should be the pick to win.”

Bagnall will rely on Stanley, Price, Pruitt, Drandon Saddlemire, George Wilkes, Gage Piechocki, Austin Cowperthwait, Jon Michael Marino, Cooper Quick, Tom Maby, James Murnock, Jagr Briar and Anthony Stark to be a strong backbone for the Saber team this season.

The Susquehanna varsity football team is comprised of seniors Marino, Price, Cowperthwait, Maby, Quick, Pruitt, Saddlemire, Stanley, Stark, Wlikes, Jerome Acone, Dustin Burdick, Devin Fowler, Austin Sampson, Mitchell Wages and Jeffrey Wayman, juniors Briar, Brett Archambault, Jake Tyler and Zach Vaughn, and sophomores Cameron Barnes, Adam Collins, Lewis Esposito, Jon Haines, Lyle Lawson, Nicholas Lloyd, Quentin Millard, Curtis Mills, CJ Monks, James Murnock, Josh Potter and Danny Darrow.

Full schedule:

Sept. 2, atHanover,7 p.m.

Sept. 10, home against Holy Redeemer,1 p.m.

Sept. 17, home against Greater Nanticoke,1 p.m.

Sept. 23, home againstLakeland,7 p.m.

Sept. 30, atCarbondale,7 p.m.

Oct. 8, at Holy Cross,1 p.m.

Oct. 14, home against Montrose,7 p.m.

Oct. 21, at Lackawanna Trail,7 p.m.

Oct. 29, home against Mid valley,1 p.m.

Nov. 4, at Old Forge,7 p.m.

Independent staff writer Kevin Woodruff also contributed to this report.