An unlikely championship is within the grasp of a ragtag group of students just as the mine that supports their town prepares to close.
Felix “Red” O’Sullivan is the best hope to lead his team to a statewide football championship. Unlike other teams in 1950 in Arizona, whites and Latinos play together on the Hartley Muckers. Nevertheless, both groups are aware of the dividing lines: separate Masses, different swimming times at the pool and limits on relationships across the racial divide. Red is also plagued by family difficulties: His father is an alcoholic, and his mother was hospitalized, broken with grief for her older son, who was killed in World War II. For Red, this season will be his last chance to return glory to “Bobby’s school.” It will be a struggle for a school with barely enough players, and whose field is littered with slag and rocks, to defeat bigger and better-equipped teams even as the town continues its inevitable demise. Based on a true story, this is a richly textured portrayal of a small town coping with the economic, political and racial realities of post–World War II America. The storytelling is enhanced by fictional excerpts from local papers that provide additional insight, including the “Social News & Arrests” column as well as want ads in addition to substantive articles.
Distinctive characters and finely drawn specifics of locale and landscape set this football story apart. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)