Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates





CHAPTER XVII
IN CONFERENCE

I wish, said Blash one evening, that someone would invent a new sport.

What for? asked Sid. Thinking of taking a little exercise? Ever try checkers, Blash? Thats about your style of a game.

Cease your idle chatter, answered his room-mate with dignity. Im not thinking of myself. Im thinking of Sandy Halden. Sandy is out of a job again. They let him go from the Track Team today. Billy Goode thinks the school can worry along through the year without him as a jumper or half-miler or shot-putter. Of course, Billys probably mistaken, but there it is.

Just what was Sandy? A shot-putter or one of the other things you mentioned? Sid laid down his pencil and tipped back squeakingly in his chair. It was study hour in Number 27 Goss, but Blash wasnt in a studious mood.

George Keene says he was broad-jumping the last thing. Hed tried running, and maybe everything else for all I know, and had got Billy to let him try jumping. This afternoon, Keene says, Sandy managed a perfectly marvellous jump of eighteen feet or something and then claimed that Hollaway, who had the tape, didnt measure it right. Claimed hed done twenty-one even and pointed to his foot-prints only they happened to be someone elses and was very nasty until Hollaway offered to beat him to a pulp and Billy gave him his time. So now Sandy is nursing a new grouch and looking for new worlds to conquer. Blash yawned widely. Thats why I want a new sport. You see, Sid, Sandy has tried everything now.

He might try canoeing and tip over, suggested Sid.

Dont be heartless. Besides, he can probably swim! Blash drummed his fingers on the edge of the table until Sid, who had returned to work, exclaimed protestingly. Look here, what am I going to do about Dick Bates? asked Blash, thrusting his hands into his pockets to make them behave.

Sid pushed his book away and sighed in resignation. All right, hang you, he said. Go ahead and talk yourself out, and when youre quite through Ill finish this math. What about Dick?

Why, laughed Blash, I owe him something. You havent forgotten that hoax he worked on me in the movie house, have you?

Not by a long shot! Sid grinned. That was corking, Blash.

Hm. Well, yes, I acknowledge that it was. And being corking, it demands a corking come-back. But I cant seem to see one. My powers of of invention

You never had any. Why not forget it and call quits? You put one over on Dick the day you came up in the carriage with him, didnt you?

Oh, that was nothing. Purely impromptu, Sid. What I want now is something something grand and magnificent, something worth while! Can you think of anything?

No, and if I could I wouldnt. You let Dick alone until hes through football. Your old tricks will only get his mind off his work.

Think so? I wouldnt want to worry him, Sid. My idea is only to amuse him, to provide diversion. Blash was silent a moment and Sid, eyeing him doubtfully, stretched a tentative hand toward his book.

But Blash wasnt talked out yet. He chuckled. Stan told me something funny about Dick yesterday, he announced. It seems that hes a bit of a hero back home and his high school paper has been copying everything about him it could find in The Leader and playing it up hard. Now his father is writing to ask him if he doesnt do anything here besides play football and is threatening to take him out of school!

Get out! Sid looked incredulous. Thats just one of Stans yarns.

Honest to coconuts, Sid! And Dicks terribly worried and is afraid the old man will learn that hes been taken into the Banjo and Mandolin Club. Say if his father hears that, hell disown him!

Sid laughed. Must be a cranky old codger! Most fathers would be rather proud, I guess. I recall that mine slipped me a twenty-dollar check when I wrote home that Id been elected baseball captain!

Well, thats different, said Blash gently. You see, hed never expected much from you, Sid, and the surprise momentarily unnerved him. And I suppose that by the time hed pulled himself together again and tried to stop payment on that check you had it cashed.

I sure did, laughed Sid. And spent, too, most of it!

I think I remember the occasion. Well, Ive been sort of dallying with the notion that there might be a chance to get a rise out of Dick in connection with his fathers er attitude. I dont just see my way clear yet, but theres an idea floating around at the back of my brain

It will probably die of loneliness, said Sid comfortingly, so dont trouble about it. Just you take my advice and let Dick alone. Ill tell you right now that I shant help you in any of your nefarious plots, Blash.

Thats all right. I think Ill be able to work this alone. Blash stared thoughtfully at the light and a slow smile overspread his lean countenance. Yes, I think I shall, he added with conviction.

Sid looked across suspiciously. Ive a good mind to warn him against you, he said; tell him to look out for plots.

Piffle! You mind my own business. Im not going to hurt Dick. Besides, I I havent got it quite. It it eludes muh!

I hope itll continue to elude you. Now, for the love of Pete, shut up and let me study, will you?

Sure! I didnt ask you to stop studying. Think your conversation is interesting to me? Go on and study. Im going to Sohmer.

Stans?

I might drop in there. Come over when youre through with that rot. What you want to bother with it for is more than I know, anyway. Youre just making it harder for the rest of us!

When, a half-hour later, Sid joined his room-mate in Number 14 Sohmer, he found to his relief three boys amicably and unemotionally discussing the prospects of the college football teams. Blash, however, looked horribly pleased and innocent, and Sids suspicions returned. He always suspected Blash when he looked innocent.

The St. Lukes Academy game on the following Saturday proved one of the best contests of the season. The visitors usually gave an excellent account of themselves, but the closeness of the score on this occasion was a big surprise to Parkinson. The best the home team could do in the first half was to drop a single field-goal over the cross-bar, and even that modest performance was delayed until the second quarter was almost over.

It was Newhall, the big right guard, who made the tally possible by breaking through on St. Lukes thirty-two yards and spoiling a punt. The pigskin bounded away from Newhalls body as he leaped into its path, and went trickling across the sod. A dozen players pursued it but it was Bob Peters who won, and when the pile-up was disentangled it was found snuggled under his chest. From the enemys twenty-eight to her eighteen Gaines and Kirkendall alternated, the latter finally making the last of the distance with only inches to spare. Warden failed to gain and a quarter-back run netted but three yards. With Kirkendall back, on a fake kick, Gaines got through right guard for three more. With four to go on fourth down Kirkendall dropped the ball between the uprights for the only score of the half.

St. Lukes presented a heavy team and a most aggressive one. From end to end, her line outweighed Parkinsons by many pounds, but weight didnt mean slowness in her case, and time and again the visitors made gains by getting the jump on their opponent. In the back-field she was lighter but quite as fast as the Brown-and-White. St. Lukes suffered, however, as was generally agreed, from a lack of good scoring plays. She relied on weight and speed to break through the enemy line and her reliance was not misplaced. But she had not counted evidently on the excellent defence put up by Parkinsons back-field. Her lighter backs, once through the line, were almost invariably stopped short of conclusive gains. She had almost nothing to offer in the way of variety and her runs outside tackles were weak. The overhead game she let severely alone during the first half of the contest and tried but four times later. At punting, however, she excelled Kirkendall by five yards and, in the last quarter, when K went out, bested Gaines by fully eight.

The third period opened up with Parkinson kicking off and St. Lukes running the ball back from her goal-line to her thirty-eight, Furniss missing a tackle and Harris finally bringing the runner down. St. Lukes battered the Brown-and-White for her distance, smashing through Cupp on the left of centre for five yards and again for two and completing her job by an unexpected slide off Wendell. Once over the fifty-yard-line, however, she failed to gain in four and punted to Warden on his fifteen. Warden gained five. Kirkendall threw Peters on his thirty-three and Bob was downed. Off-side on the next play set Parkinson back and three downs gained but six yards. Kirkendall punted. St. Lukes fumbled but recovered and ran in twelve yards across the field. Parkinsons line failed to give and St. Lukes tried her first forward-pass. Although she managed to bunch three men for the catch, the pass grounded. She punted on the next down and Stone misjudged the ball and followed it across the line for a touchback. A few minutes later Warden got away around the enemys left and zigzagged nearly twenty yards before he was run out at his forty. A fake-kick, with Kirkendall carrying the ball on a wide run around the enemys right, added seven more and Gaines made the distance on the fifty. With Peters coming around from right end, Stone made two through centre, and the same play, with Peters carrying, gained four outside St. Lukes left end. A subsequent attempt by Gaines failed and Parkinson punted. The kick went short and cross the boundary at the enemys thirty-two yards.

St. Lukes made four around Furniss and failed at the centre. She then tried her second forward-pass and made it good, taking the ball just past midfield. Scoville took Furniss place for Parkinson. St. Lukes tried out the new end and was stopped for a two-yard loss. A cross-buck on right tackle gave her four and her full-back romped through a wide hole in Parkinsons centre for eight. St. Lukes now concentrated on Newhall and Wendell and made short gains, Newhall finally giving up and going out in favour of Bartlett. The Parkinson right side was weakening and the enemy battered it hard and inched along to the Brown-and-Whites twenty-nine. There a fumble cost her a seven-yard loss. Faking a place-kick, her right half took the ball through Wendell for six and it was second down on Parkinsons thirty. A plunge at centre was stopped and again St. Lukes prepared to kick. This time the ball went to quarter and that nimble youth romped ahead for the needed distance and was downed on the twenty-five.

Two attempts at the right side gave the visitors five yards and necessitated the substitution of Cairns for Wendell. Cairns stopped a plunge at his position and, on fourth down, with a tackle back in kicking position, St. Lukes made her distance on a skin-tackle play that shot her left half off Harris to Parkinsons fourteen.

St. Lukes ran on a fresh right tackle and a substitute left half, and, for Parkinson, Long went in for Gaines. With a tackle back and every indication of a forward-pass, St. Lukes smashed at the Parkinson right side for three and repeated the play for two more. From the nine yards the enemy reached the three in two attacks at centre and then hurling her whole back-field at Bartlett, she sent her right tackle trickling around the Parkinson left end. Warden nailed the runner just short of the line, but couldnt prevent a score. It was a touchdown by less than a hands breadth, but a touchdown nevertheless. St. Lukes failed on the punt-out and the score stood 6-3.

The period ended with the next play and Parkinson made four changes. Gleason went in for Cupp, Dean for Upton, Trask for Kirkendall and Bates for Stone. St. Lukes made two substitutions, sending in a new centre and a new full-back.

Dick carried instructions from Mr. Driscoll to open up the play, and Trask, standing on his twenty-four yards, sent off a forward-pass to Peters well up the field. Peters touched the pigskin but couldnt hold it. The same play to the other side of the field, Trask to Long, netted eighteen yards. Dick sent a plunge at the St. Lukes right side but Trask made only a yard. Warden ripped off four outside left tackle. A forward-pass, Trask to Scoville, added twelve, Scoville being downed where he caught. Three line plunges left Parkinson three yards short of her distance and Trask punted short to the enemys seventeen.

St. Lukes tried the Parkinson ends and gained five in two downs and punted to midfield, the ball going out. Dick was getting more speed into the team than it had shown before and St. Lukes was finding the attacks at her line harder to stop. A weak spot developed at the St. Lukes right tackle and thrice Warden and Trask plunged through for gains. In eight downs Parkinson advanced to the enemys twenty-eight yards. There, with Trask back in kicking position, Dick scurried around the St. Lukes left end and found a free field to her twelve, where he was tackled by the quarter just inside the boundary. The ball was outside on the next play and was paced in on the eleven yards. Warden slid off right tackle for three and put the pigskin down in front of the right-hand goal-post. With Cairns back as though to kick, Dick tossed the ball to Long and Long shot it across the line to Peters for a touchdown. Parkinson arose in the stand and howled approval.

And that ended the scoring. Coach Driscoll ran on numerous second and third-string players in the final four minutes and the game became hectic and uncertain, with several penalties and two costly fumbles, shared by the two teams, and Dick having heart-failure every time he called his signals. But, although St. Lukes worked her way back to Parkinsons thirty-five yards and looked formidable, the defenders took the ball away before she could try a field-goal and punted out of danger. And before the enemy could start another advance the whistle blew.

On the whole, both teams played good football, and there were plenty who maintained that, given a half-dozen tricky plays, St. Lukes would have scored a victory. Of course Parkinson had shown plenty of weak spots. For three periods she had been slow in the line and not much faster behind it. Newhall had made a poor showing against St. Lukes left guard and Furniss, at left end, had had an off-day. Stone had sometimes chosen the wrong plays. But everything considered Parkinson had proved herself a powerful team and shown considerable improvement over her performance of a week ago.

Parkinsons best-beloved rival Kenwood, had had a season of ups and downs and, as Coach Driscoll said at the first conference following the St. Lukes game, there was no telling what sort of a team she would present against Parkinson on the twenty-third of November. She had been decisively beaten in mid-season by Bonright School, had turned around a week later and slammed Wainstow to the tune of 26-0, had been tied by Musket Hill and now, on Saturday last, had just nosed out a victory over Chancellor.

Shes got good material, said Mr. Driscoll, but it isnt running true to form. And shes had some hard luck, too. Losing her best back, Shotwell, early in the season was against her. But the chief trouble, as I see it, is that she doesnt seem to have settled on a definite playing policy, unless shes done it within the week. She started out with light backs and a lot of fast, clever trick plays that worked all right until she ran up against Bonright. Bonright seems to have beaten her at her own game. After that she laid off heavy Browne and that other half, whatever his name was, and took on two heavy men and started in playing a line game, smashing tandems between tackles and using a very good forward-pass with two men receiving. But she hasnt developed a dependable goal-kicker yet, unless shes got someone in hiding. Nutting missed two tries, both easy, on Saturday. So, as I say, theres no such thing as sizing her up. Of course, we may get a sort of a line on her after weve met Chancellor this week, but I dont expect much that will help us.

It never seems to make much difference how Kenwood plays during the season, observed Stearns Whipple. Shes always top-of-form when she gets to us!

Well have one advantage, anyhow, said Bob Peters. Weve come along pretty steady and what we know weve learned. Kenwood has sort of gone one step forward and two back, and she doesnt know just where shes at, I guess. What about her condition, Billy?

Oh, shes got a first-class trainer in Connell and he will do his part all right. You mustnt look for any advantage there, Cap. Her men will be in condition all right. As good as ours, I guess.

Well outpunt her, Coach, said Stone.

With Kirkendall in, yes. But that man of hers, Brighouse, has a clever foot. And he puts his punts where he wants them to go, I hear. We may outdistance him a few yards, but a lot depends on the wind. I have a sort of a hunch, fellows, that Kenwood is keeping something up her sleeve. I cant tell you why I think that, or what the something is, but thats my hunch.

And your hunches are generally right, mused Peters. Any second-string fellow that looks as if he was being held back? A clever back-field man, for instance?

I havent found any. No, I think its a goal-kicker, or maybe theyve got a new scoring play that they havent shown. Well, Im only guessing. Well know better a week from Saturday. Now lets do some planning on the week from now to Thursday. Weve got to buckle down and find a way of getting some punch into those split-plays. Or else drop them. Whats your idea, Cap?

Whereupon the meeting became very technical and abstruse.

CHAPTER XVIII
PUBLICITY

Mr. Bates reply to Dicks letter was contained in his regular weekly epistle and was decidedly non-committal. He appeared to accept Dicks statements as to the latters studiousness and progress but made little comment. Only, a mail later than the letter, came two copies of the Leonardville daily, each with a paragraph circled in red ink. Seeing them, Dick sighed and shook his head even before he read them. Thursdays paper held the following under the caption High School Jottings:

Richard C. Bates, for two years one of High Schools most popular students, is certainly making good at his new Alma Mater, Parkinson School, which he entered last September. Dick went out for the Parkinson Football Team and proceeded to show them how the position of quarter-back should be played. Now he is first substitute, we learn, and the season isnt over yet. Dicks loss was a severe blow to the High School Team, but his old friends are surely proud of his success and are rooting hard for him.

Dick shuddered over that and took up the second paper. Leonardville is Proud of Him, he read. Richard Corliss Bates, the younger son of our prominent citizen and successful merchant, Mr. Henry L. Bates, of Euclid Boulevard, is a fine example of the coming citizens of Leonardville. Young Bates is well and favourably known to a wide circle of friends in this city who will be pleased to learn of his success in the various branches of his career at Parkinson School, Warne, Mass., of which famous institution of learning he became a student in September last. While attending the local High School Richard Bates was unusually popular, both for his personal traits and for the brilliancy displayed by him in athletics. As a football player he was easily supreme in this part of the State and his prowess was recognised widely. A number of schools and colleges sought his services but young Bates chose the school which his brother, Stuart Bates, now of Philadelphia, attended. There, in the short space of two months, Richard has already made his presence felt and is in a fair way to attain renown both for scholastic attainments and athletic supremacy. He entered into competition at the beginning of the school year for the position of quarter-back on the School Football Team, an honor for which there were dozens of contenders, and now holds the place of first substitute, with every indication of becoming the regular incumbent of the position before the football season ends. He has also recently been elected to membership in one of the schools most exclusive organizations, the Banjo and Mandolin Club, to which, because of a rare musical talent, he will doubtless prove a valuable addition. In his classes Richard stands high. There is, we understand, talk amongst his friends in the High School of organising a party to go to Warne on the occasion of the Parkinson-Kenwood football game, which is held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, to see him play and to do honour to one who is so pleasingly upholding the traditions of Leonardville young manhood. His career will be watched with sympathetic interest by a host of well-wishers in our fair city.





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