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Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 18, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books (August 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088903
  • ASIN: B003WUYSQM
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,341,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Our Boys is about far more than football. It’s an inspiring story about how a coach and a community are building young men with the simple values of love, patience, and hard work. This is a great book."—Joe Paterno, head football coach, Pennsylvania State University

"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

                                         


More About the Author

I am a reporter for The New York Times who got to return to high school in the heart of America with my wife and 3-year-old son to write the NYT Bestseller "Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen. Last year, we went to college - to the United States Military Academy to write "Soldiers First: Duty, Honor, Country & Football at West Point." The Academy truly is a national treasure and the young men and women who go there are our best and brightest. In Army football, I found the good guys in college sports. Check out www.joedrape.com for more about "Soldiers First."
About me: I am a Kansas City native and a graduate of Southern Methodist University. I previously worked for The Dallas Morning News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I live with my wife and son in New York City.

Customer Reviews

This is real, a true story although it seems too good to be true at times.
Barbara Jackson
Coach Barta and his staff impart life wisdom to the group of remarkable young men you will come to love as you read this book.
Michael DENNISUK
A heartening story about the sport of small-town high school football, its players and its fans.
homeowner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Martin VINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Our Boys is an amazing tale about the high school football team from tiny Smith Center, Kansas. As of the 2000 census, the town had just 1,931 people with most of them living in town or near it on family farms. Despite having such a small town to draw athletes from, the Smith Center High School Redmen football team prior to the 2008 season had won four consecutive Kansas 2A titles and boasted a record winning streak of over 50 games.

Joe Drape, a reporter for the New York Times, a Kansas native, originally discovered the Redmen and Smith Center after the team set a high school scoring record, scoring 72 points in one quarter. Drape moved his entire family to Smith Center at the beginning of the 2008 season in order to chronicle the Redmen's drive for their fifth straight 2A state football title and their pursuit of the all-time winning streak record of 66 wins in a row. This book is the result.

The book's over 250 pages, and I read it in a single day. That's how good this story is, and how much I as a reader cared about Head Coach Roger Barta, his assistants, the players, and everybody else in the town of Smith Center that Drape writes about.

This isn't "just a sports book," although the game action described by Drape is very well done. The point of the book, and according to Coach Barta, is it's not about the wins and losses, one just needs to focus on getting better each day. That's a good life lesson for all of us. Barta knows that his players aren't going to go on to play in the NFL, (although one of his former players already has) he wants to make them better people while they're playing football and having fun.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael DENNISUK VINE VOICE on July 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is one of the best books I have read on high school sports since reading "Friday Night Lights" 20 years ago. The author, Joe Drape, moves his wife and son Jack to Smith Center, Kansas to follow the exploits of the town's high school football team. The Smith Center Redmen are riding a 4 year winning streak that has culminated in 4 state titles. In 2008 they are seeking to continue the streak and break the state record.

This is an amazing story about love, family, commitment, small town America and football. I have been around high school sports and young people most of my adult life. We are often blinded by mega sports stars,free agent contracts, performance enhancing drugs and professional extravaganzas. The pure essence of sport is embodied in the high school athlete who sacrifices and works hard for the benefit of the lessons learned.

Mr. Drape gets it absolutely right. Coach Barta and his staff impart life wisdom to the group of remarkable young men you will come to love as you read this book. This book is an ABSOLUTE GEM!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jason Whitt VINE VOICE on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The best service I can do for "Our Boys" is to say that, despite the photo on the cover, this is not a sports book so much as it is a book about the power of community, family and the inherent rewards of hard work.

Joe Drape's first hand account tells the true story of one high school football team's run for history in the small, rural Kansas town of Smith Center. At first blush it would be easy to dismiss this book as yet another "Hoosiers" tale with helmets and cleats. But readers will find that "Our Boys" isn't just a story about a group of kids striving to do what no one (including themselves) thought they could. This book is about something much bigger than "winning the big game".

The Smith Center Redmen were known throughout Kansas and the country for their incredible winning streak that had spanned 4 seasons and counting. Pressure was mounting to eclipse the win record held by another school. "Our Boys" allows us to be a fly on the wall to observe that journey, a journey taken by the entire town.

Joe Drape integrates himself and his family into the community and indeed becomes a part of it. And while a fair share of the book is about what takes place in the games, the vast majority of the book is instead devoted in great detail to the people of Smith Center. Those who built it up and continue to keep it alive and breathing. These are simple but smart farm folk with old fashioned values. They still teach "yes sir" and "yes ma'am". Yes, their kids go to school and play ball, but also tend their farms along side their parents.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Author Joe Drape penned a trifecta of critically-acclaimed books on Thoroughbred racing before tackling the turf of high-school football in rural Kansas in Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen (August 2009; Times Books: Henry Holt and Company, LLC).

When Drape first became acquainted with the Redmen in November 2007, they were on the cusp of capturing their fourth straight Division 2A state championship, with the current senior class about to finish their four years by winning an incredible 54 games in a row. But Drape hurdles past the statistics to get to the heart of a dynasty when he returns with his wife and young son the following summer to explore a true foundation that's built on community - the Smith Center population is less than 2,000 - and teamwork in a 165-member student body.

"I tell our boys it's about the journey," says long-time head coach Roger Barta, whose 2008 squad was shooting for state records in consecutive wins and most consecutive state titles. "What we do around here real well is raise kids. None of this is really about football."

Drape picks up the pre-season drills as June is about to give way to July and weaves an oftentimes tragic history of the region - dust storms of the 1930s, recent economic woes - with well-paced and placed sketches of coaches, players and residents. There is the battle between the core values found in the heartland with some perilous dangers in the fast-paced first decade of the new century; juvenile abuse cases on the rise and methamphetamine labs being found in abandoned farmhouses. Through it all, writes Drape, "...the Redmen were proof that hard work and accountability still meant something.
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