Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coming to a Bookstore Near You...A Great Book on Small-Town High School Football

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

After the hustle-and-bussle of three days in New York City to check-out the screening of my girlfriend Trish Hoffman's big screen debut in the new Joe Otting movie Under New Management, I settled into my airplane seat looking forward to my flight back to Chicago and reading New York Times writer Joe Drape's new book Our Boys, which chronicles the 2008 season of the Smith Center (Kansas) Redmen.

From the moment I began reading Our Boys, I was transported to this tiny town with a population of 1,931 people. Yes, the book is about Smith Center's drive for a fifth straight Kansas Class 2A high school football title, but Drape does an excellent job of weaving Midwest history and culture in-and-out of this great 265-page read.

Personally, as someone who is fascinated with small town football, I could feel Drape's love of the sport and Smith Center's people throughout.

For the book, Drape actually moved his advertising executive wife and young son from NYC to the tiny town that is smack dab in the middle of the United States. That fact alone, hooked me!

Ask Trish, I don't think there's anything more romantic than a Charles Kuralt-like tour of the America's high school football landscape.

Drape set the hook on me on Page 69 when he wrote:

"When we heard sirens here, we did not tune them out as in New York. Our hearts sank because they signaled that somebody we knew had taken ill, or had been in an accident or was in some kind of trouble."

It's that sort of dig into the community's soul that Drape puts in Our Boys from the beginning when he describes the highs-and-lows of the town from its farming heyday; to the Dust Bowl of the 30's; to win #67 that gave the community its fifth straight state championship.

Notice I said "gave the community" the championship! The Redmen won the game on the field, but as Drape eloquently tells us, it truly does take a village. Bravo Joe!

Our Boys comes out this week, and I can't think of a better way for a true fan of high school football to begin the season!

Pick it up!

To find out more, please go to Joe Drape's website at


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