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BY STEW CASTERLINE

Southern Swing

Jean and I spent the past week in Florida, visiting my mother and her friend, John, and taking a few Christmas decorations down to the place in Naples. I also took the opportunity to play in a softball tournament in Ft. Myers with some of my teammates from the Central New York Senior Softball League.

On the drive down, we saw lots and lots of road signs along the journey. I decided to write a good portion of the column on what entered my “pea brain” as we passed the signs.

Heading down Interstate 81, I opted to start near Harrisburg. Here’s our trip from my perspective.

Lebanon – Former Tiger athlete Jerry “Stu” Yonchiuk just completed his first year as head football coach of the Cedars. It’s also where former NBA star Sam Bowie went to high school.

Mechanicsburg – Jerry Frey’s good friend Rich Lichtel is the head football coach there and former TA coach Rick Bollinger was once the principal.

Carlisle – One-time T-Town resident Matt Shaffer starred in basketball for Dickinson College and local attorney Jim Davis used to watch his beloved Washington Redskins go through preseason drills there.

Chambersburg – Former Mansfield great Tommy Brookens, who spent a dozen years in the big leagues, still resides there. This spring he will manage Detroit’s single A affiliate in the Midwest League.

Hagerstown, Md. – Former Tiger Matt Pencek was once the sports anchor at a television station, before making it big in the insurance industry.

Front Royal, Va. – Matt Wadas coaches football and wrestling at a high school here. The younger Wadas has a ways to go to catch his dad Frank with 300-plus career wrestling wins, but he’s off to a good start.

The rest of Virginia brought back memories of my long-gone baseball days as a collegian. In the summer of 1969, I played in the likes of Luray, Staunton, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. While up at State, our southern trip included stops at Richmond, Norfolk and Ashland (Randolph-Macon). Just south of Richmond, some department of transportation official with a sense of humor posted a sign that Rocky Mount and Miami (Fla.) were straight ahead. That’s like putting a sign west of T-Town on US6 that Laceyville and Chicago were straight ahead.

Wilmington, N.C. – Signs on 95 for this coastal city reminded me of former TASD educators Augie and Cindy Grant as well as former Tiger great Mike Landon.

Jacksonville, Fla. – Nearly 20 years ago, the recruiting battle for a young baseball phenom named Marc Marini began. The winner was Jacksonville University where Marc started for four years and made the Sun Belt All-Star team as a junior and senior.

We motored over 1,300 miles but it wasn’t too bad as I expounded excessively on each of these locations with Jean.

Column Status

As you undoubtedly know, my wife and I retired from our duties at the Tunkhannock Area School District last June. As a result, we now have the opportunity to winter in Florida and also spend some time with my mother.

Knowing that I was heading south for the colder months of the year, some people inquired about the status of the column. I first started the weekly entries in July 1986, but I feel that it would be too difficult to continue while residing in Naples. After all, this column is not about me; it’s about the folks past and present in Wyoming County. To write a meaningful column, I need to be in touch with the local people.

I approached my boss Bob Baker about the situation and asked if I could write my column and help Nathan out with the sports while in T-Town. Thankfully, Bob thought that it would be okay to be a seasonal columnist for the Wyoming County Press Examiner, so that’s what we are going to attempt this winter. We’ll see how it goes and go from there.

Ramblings

Penn State’s Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, who is tending to Coach Paterno, played football against the Tigers as a member of the powerful Blakely Bears.

Former TAHS educators and coaches Stan Markunas and Don Cragle recently spent a week with Augie and Carol Grant at St. James Plantation near Southport, N.C.

Congratulations to grid Tigers Matt Landsiedel, Nathan Pohlman, Thurston Sick and Chris Welch for being selected to play in the UNICO All-Star Classic at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium on Thanksgiving morning.

Local linksters Tom Kukuchka, Kevin Kukuchka, Wally Pilger and Jason Pozniak shot a 60 in a recent Turkey Tournament at Irem Temple. Also carding a 60 in the same event were Bill Yunkunis, Dave Straley, Kurt Van Duzer and Rick Mazur.

Was that a misprint that I saw in the paper or did Shippensburg really beat Penn State in men’s basketball?

Speaking of Marc Marini, he’s signed on to coach the seventh grade boys’ basketball squad at TA. He’ll be replacing Jeff Papi, who is a police officer in the Poconos and is unable to continue as the coach.

John Filer and Robbie Jones better put a stick of dynamite under their beloved Steelers if they want to spend January and February defending their Super Bowl title.

It won’t be long before the Tiger Marching Band learns who they’ll be playing for in the Gator Bowl. Wouldn’t a Clemson (Tigers) vs. Auburn (Tigers) match-up be neat?

Trivia

I’m computer-less at the moment, so I’m not certain if anyone knew that Bishop O’Reilly’s David Popson played in the NBA after his collegiate career at North Carolina.

As a post-grad student, TA marching band director Ryan Zellner once led the “pep band” in front of 20,000 fans. Where did Mr. Z do his graduate work in college?

To respond to the trivia question, call Stew Casterline at 836-1345 or e-mail stewart.casterline@gmail.com.