Although Drape traveled to the Midwest to chronicle a record-setting high school football season, the tale he spins ends up being one that transcends athletics, a story of adolescence and smalltown life. Smith Center, Kans., is a sleepy locale 90 miles from the nearest McDonald's, a place with more windmills than people. But it's also home to Kansas's biggest football powerhouse, a team that entered the fall of 2008 with 56 straight victories and four consecutive championships. From the opening practice to the Redmen's final game, Drape flawlessly paints a picture of how Smith Center achieves perfection year after year. More importantly, he delves into the individual stories on the team: the tough but kindhearted coach who built a dynasty from nothing; the sure-fire college prospect; and the assistant coach's son, trying to live up to his father's legacy. All the while, Drape details the friendships he develops away from the field with the parents and other townspeople, and the mutual joy they bring the Redmen. With a clear sensitivity toward the difficulties facing the Smith Center players, along with more than a dash of humor, Drape gives the reader a team worth rooting for. (Aug.)
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If you want to turn away from the high-voltage auctioneer babble that surrounds big-time, big-money sport, take this trip to Smith Center, Kansas, with Joe Drape. This is organic stuff, a fat and healthy slice of unadulterated American life. Simply terrific. (Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam and At the Altar of Speed)
Our Boys delves into the heart of America in a manner that reminds me of The Last Picture Show and Friday Night Lights. Joe Drape crafts a terrific tale that will make you laugh, cry, and think. This is a story about small-town America that will make you shout. (Jim Dent, author of Twelve Mighty Orphans and The Junction Boys)
Joe Drape tells the remarkable story of the Smith Center Redmen, not only their success in winning football games, but also in swelling pride for a community and building character in young men. He shows that Roger Barta and the people in Smith Center are winners in every sense of the word. (Bob Stoops, head coach, University of Oklahoma)
Joe Drape has caught something deep and beautiful in Our Boys. It is true to the reality of life on the plains, much more than another football story. (David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi)
A great read for all, but even more so for big-city readers to get a taste of the quality of life and genuine caring of this small community and its revered teacher, mentor, and coach - Roger Barta. It is not so much a story about football but about the true meaning of midwestern values, family life, and the spirit of small town Kansas and its special people. I couldn't put it down. (Bill Snyder, head coach, Kansas State University)
A feel-good story of youthful drive, great coaching and the value of unflagging communal support. (Kirkus Reviews)
The tale [Drape] spins ends up being one that transcends athletics, a story of adolescence and smalltown life. . . . From the opening practice to the Redmen's final game, Drape flawlessly paints a picture of how Smith Center achieves perfection year after year. . . . Drape gives the reader a team worth rooting for. (Publishers Weekly)
'Hoosiers' on a football field. (New York Post)
The most improbable, unabashed love story I've read in years. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A compelling story expertly told. (Pat Forde, ESPN.com)
Joe Drape touched on so many things this season it's unreal. Must read for all of us raised in small towns..with small town values. Kudos Smith Center KS for doing it right !Published 4 days ago by marco
It is an easy read but packed with a lot of food for thought. It would also be good for book club discussion.Published 9 months ago by Mzia
An easy read, full of accurate information and interesting insight into the making of sensitive and focused youth from a sports perspective as well as "it takes a village to... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Anna Mae
If you appreciate the values of growing up in a small town, this is a wonderful read.
After I read the book, I took a trip to this small Kansas town to see a football game.
Great football book that is more about teaching the kids how they should look at their lives and the lives of everyone around them.Published on July 29, 2013 by Gene Esch