Dan Keith, son of a beloved suburban Pittsburgh doctor, is enrolled in a prestigious local prep school, Arnold Academy, in the early Sixties. Arnold has just enough oddness about it to interest Dan (""Mr. Bates, the headmaster, led us in prayer, everybody throwing himself suddenly forward in the pew as if a sniper had just appeared on stage""). But his real passion is reserved for football. Chunky, slotted as a guard, Dan toils in JV for three years--only later learning that team social pressures have influenced the coach to keep him off varsity, where he rightly belonged. And all the while he's playing his heart out so that his adored father might be proud of him. But the father does a terrible thing: he sickens and dies young of cancer while Dan is still in JV. And the message--that football (and life) must be lived and loved for itself and yourself rather than for something or someone else--is finally explicitly borne over the goal line. First-novelist Guy gives Dan a dammed-off emotional fastidiousness plus a premature cynicism--not an uncommon adolescent mix--and thus makes him an agreeable packhorse for the sweetly sad but unearthshaking moral brunt of the novel. Gently dutiful, smoothly rounded: a nice book with special appeal for a YA audience.