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Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen Paperback – August 3, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!!!
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful read. Small town football is always interesting, but I also found his family's move to the small town just as interesting. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rand Holdren
This is a great book for any High School Football fan. It is a great read and the story is told very well. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Victor Ignatiev
This has become one of my favorite books to read. The author immersed himself in Smith Center football, moving his wife and small child to Kansas to follow this record-breaking... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Patrick Patterson
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 12 months ago by marco