A 12-year-old halfback with a huge passion for football fights to keep his team on the field.
Will Tyler keeps reliving the final play of the previous year’s championship, when his team came so close before his fumble caused the loss to their well-heeled rivals across the river. Unfortunately, budget cuts may keep the town from fielding his team this year. Like other manufacturing towns, Forbes, Pa., has lost jobs and businesses that might sponsor a sports team. Will takes a chance, writes to a national company and comes up with the funds to keep the team going. That was almost the easy part: The team no longer has a coach, former players are not interested and skepticism abounds. One of the few who want to play is Hannah, a new girl in town with great ability and as much grit as Will. For Will’s dad, who has agreed to coach, and his teammates, this is nearly a deal-breaker. Sports-loving readers will identify with Will, whose heart and determination leap off the page. His budding friendship with Hannah rings true and contributes to his growth on and off the field. The relationship between Will and his widowed dad provides an emotional touchstone, while the desperation of a small town trying to hang on permeates the story.Authenticity and texture combined with well-paced football action make for another solid outing from Lupica. (Fiction 10-14)