10-12-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Martin Truex Jr. drives away with win at Charlotte and into Round of 8

Martin Truex Jr. drove away with the win Sunday in the Bank of American 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With the victory, the six-time, trophy-hoisting driver also made his way into the next round of playoff competition in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Having started the race in 17th place, Truex Jr. wound his way around the track and through traffic to take the lead. He led 91 laps.

Truex Jr. has led the driver standings much of the year. In addition to claiming his sixth victory of the season and 13th career win, he also notched his 14th top five of the year.

Chase Elliott finished second in the 30th race of the 2017 season. He has zero wins in this, his second full-time year on the circuit, and nine top five finishes.

Kevin Harvick sped into third place. He started the race from the same position. Harvick led 149 laps and has one win and 10 top five finishes this year.

Denny Hamlin cruised into fourth place. The pole sitter led 45 laps. Hamlin has two wins and 13 top five finishes this season.

Rounding out the top five was Jamie McMurray, who is winless this season. McMurray led four laps and celebrated his third top five finish.

Drivers who also led in the three-lap overtime race were: Kasey Kahne (2), Kyle Larson (12), and Kyle Busch (22).

The event featured 10 caution periods for 44 laps. There were 14 lead changes.

With the win, Truex Jr. is guaranteed a spot in the next Round of 8 competition. Three races, beginning with Charlotte, and including Talladega and Kansas, make up the Round of 12. If a driver wins in one of these three races, they automatically qualify for the next round of competition.

With the victory in hand, Truex Jr. has sailed into the next round.  But first, seven other drivers must qualify as well.

Next up is Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Speedway.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won here in May of this year.  Currently, Stenhouse Jr. is 12th in the playoff standings. A win would certainly boost his chances of winning the whole she-bang at Miami. Does he have what it takes, or is it Truex Jr.’s championship to lose?

AQB WRAP-UP

Leach earns top spot for second week in row; four AQBs knotted up with 43-13 records

By Kristy Noack

Chris Leach continues to be on a roll in the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback contest. Although she and Rodney Lynch tied for first place for the week with 6-2 records, Leach won the top spot based on the tie-breaker game.

Six super fun football fans have signed on to participate in the TCR AQB contest. Each week they are tasked with correctly predicting the winners of eight high school, college, and professional football games. The AQB with the best record following the NFL’s Super Bowl in February is deemed the winner and will receive a championship cap.

In the event there is a tie during the weekly games, one game is specially selected as the tie-breaker game. The AQBs must gaze into their crystal balls and predict how many points will be scored in that contest. The AQB with the closest guess to the actual point total is given the nod and claims the higher place in the ranking.

Leach and Lynch were the only two AQBs to correctly determine Coloma would be victorious over visiting Schoolcraft, which tipped the records in their favor. Their place in the standings came down to the tie-breaker game of Michigan State at Michigan. What a barn burner of a game that turned out to be. Sort of. MSU quieted the Michigan faithful with a 14-10 win.

With her 56-point guess, Leach won first place, guessing closer than Lynch’s 63 to the 24 point total.

RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, Greg Krell, and Bryan Conrad all posted 5-3 records, leaving their place in the standings up to their tie-breaker guess.

Third place went to Rodney-Isbrecht; she guessed 47 points would be scored.  Conrad slid into fourth place as he predicted 48 points would be scored. That left Krell in fifth place with his 51-point prediction.

Tim Hildebrand took sixth place with his 4-4 record for the week.

Overall, four AQBs are knotted atop the leaderboard with identical 43-13 records.  Hildebrand, Rodney-Isbrecht, Lynch, and Leach have a share of the first-place crown.

Krell moves into fifth place with his 42-14 overall record, just one game out of first place.

Conrad moves up one game closer to first place. He holds a 39-17 record and is nipping at Krell’s heels as he works to climb out of the cellar.

This week, the AQBs will face some potentially tough matchups. Here are the games on the docket for week 8:

Hartford @ Centreville

Watervliet @ Schoolcraft

Delton Kellogg @ Coloma

Michigan @ Indiana

MSU @ Minnesota

Utah @ USC

Detroit @ New Orleans

Chicago @ Baltimore

The tie-breaker game is the perfect, playoff-bound Panthers on the road at Schoolcraft.

Questions abound regarding this week’s games. Can Michigan recover from its loss to MSU? Will Utah top USC? Can Chicago earn its second win of the season? How will our AQBs fare? Check back to find out!

Panthers pummel Constantine, remain perfect 7-0

 The Watervliet offense continues to dominate its opponents as the high school football season rolls into week eight. Case in point: the Panthers 68-24 shellacking of Constantine Friday.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Watervliet went right to work. On their first possession, quarterback Zack Pickens got a long ball off to Garrett Matthews. The 52-yard pass play put the Panthers in perfect position for their first score.

Pickens didn’t waste any time as he sashayed into the end zone from eight yards out, scoring six points for Watervliet. Pickens also handled the two-point conversion himself, which was successful. With just a couple minutes ticked off the clock, Watervliet led 8-0.

Constantine’s first possession ate up much of the time on the clock but ended with them turning the ball over on downs.

Pickens worked the Panthers over the 50-yard line and deep into Constantine’s territory. Pickens picked up another rushing TD after an 11-yard romp into the end zone. Bryant Kieft rushed for a successful two-point conversion and Watervliet led 16-0.

Constantine got on the board late in the first and got their first points on the board, scoring on a rushing TD. Their two-point conversion failed but the Panthers’ lead decreased to 16-6.

The faithful fans needn’t have worried. Driving from deep in their own territory, Pickens completed an 81-yard pass play to Kieft for the TD. The ensuing two-point conversion rush by James Bell was good, and Watervliet led 24-6.

Constantine scored with two minutes left on the first-quarter clock to draw the score to 24-12 to close out the first quarter.

If you thought the first 12 minutes were dominated by Watervliet scoring, you were wrong. The Panthers blitzed Constantine for 32 points in the second period as Watervliet was unstoppable.

The first second quarter score came at the hands of Pickens, who hit the end zone with a 14-yard rushing TD. His two-point conversion pass to Lamarrius Smith gave the Panthers two more points and they held a 32-12 lead.

Pickens scored again on a 45-yard touchdown run. He completed a pass to Matthews for two-points as Watervliet increased their lead to 40-12.

Constantine managed to find the end zone with less than four minutes on the clock. Their third attempt at a two-point conversion failed, just like the previous two opportunities. Watervliet 40, Constantine 18.

After being set up with good field position by a Kieft reception, Pickens drilled the ball to Matthews for a 45-yard touchdown pass play. The two-point conversion pass to Matthews was good, and Watervliet led 48-18.

Constantine scored again late in the second quarter, and their two-point conversion failed yet again. Watervliet’s lead shrunk to 48-24.