Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates





Last year we had Patterson. He was a wonder, my idea of just what a quarter should be. If it was fourth down on the other fellows one-yard and Billy called for a punt wed have thought it all right. Not one of us would have questioned. He didnt make mistakes and we knew it. I say he didnt make mistakes, but of course he did once in a while. He was only human, you know. He pulled an awful boner in the Chancellor game. He had called the big shift and then he sent K around the wrong end and we lost about six yards; and a touchdown, too, as it proved, for we couldnt make the distance afterwards. Of course we were pretty sore and wed have said some hard things just then to anyone but Billy. You might expect a quarter after doing a stunt like that to be all broke-up, but when I got on my feet again Billy was laughing for all he was worth. Thats the worst one I ever pulled, said he. I guess the old beans slipping, fellows! So, in about one second we were all laughing, too, and calling it a joke. But Billys old bean didnt slip very often, Im telling you.

Did you win that game, Warden? asked Dick.

Oh, sure! We got over the next try all right. I forget the score. Something like three scores to one, I think. But if Billy had got sore wed have all been sore, and being sore doesnt help much. Unless youre sore against the other team. A quarter wants to be a regular double-dyed optimist, Bates, and he wants to let everyone know it, for the rest of the team will take their cue from him. Just let them think that hes discouraged and theyll feel the same way, and as soon as they do theyll quit trying their hardest. They wont mean to, mind you, but they will. Theres a lot of psychology in a football game, old man.

Yes, I think thats so, agreed Dick. Where Ive played, back home, though, its always been the captain thats run things, Warden.

Bad business. A captain shouldnt butt in on the running of the team unless its absolutely imperative. He has a position to play and he ought to give his whole mind to playing it. You watch Bob. Youll almost never see him question a signal or even suggest a play. You cant have two bosses, Bates, and a quarter-back is in position to see whats going on and to dope out the answer. Sometimes Bob will guess what the other fellow is up to and let us know, and hes usually right, too, but thats about all he does except play his position. Off the field hes the Big Boss, but on it hes taking his orders from the quarter just like the rest of us. Im doing a lot of talking, but Ive got rather strong convictions as to the proper playing of the quarter-back position, Bates, and I thought Id hand them on. Even if you dont like em theres no harm done.

Im glad you have, Warden, said Dick earnestly. Id never thought much about the what you call the psychology of the thing. But I see that youre right. And Ill keep it in mind if I ever get a chance!

Oh, your chance will come before the seasons over.

Mr. Driscoll isnt keeping you on the squad just to look at. Bates, Ive seen a whole team pretty nearly turned upside down between the first game and the last, seen fellows who supposedly never had a chance come out of the big game covered with medals. You never can tell! Well, next stops ours, I think. Im as hungry as a bear. I hope they give us a good feed at the hotel. Two years ago we nearly starved.

Phillipsburg didnt impress Dick very favourably at the first glance for the sunlight of a gorgeous October day was almost obscured by a pall of smoke from the many factories along the railway. But later, when they had left the station behind and were trudging up the hill toward the centre of the city, the smoke disappeared and Phillipsburg turned out to be rather attractive. The hotel was one of those old-fashioned hostelries set close to the street, with a broad verandah running along the front on which gentlemen of leisure sat tilted back in their chairs and watched life go by. To the loungers the arrival of thirty-odd guests in one bunch was a refreshingly momentous event, doubtless affording them more real excitement than they had experienced since the last collision or runaway. Quite a number of them abandoned their ease and comfort and followed the end of the procession into the lobby to satisfy their curiosity.

Dinner or luncheon as it really was was served in a small and very musty smelling room on the second floor, a room evidently dedicated to the yearly banquets of the Odd Fellows and the annual conclave of the local Order of White Elephants. There was a faded red carpet on the floor and three long walnut tables were arranged around as many sides of a square. The chairs matched the tables and dated back to about the period of the Hayes and Tilden campaign. But the food wasnt bad and the two coloured waiters, in spite of the infirmities of age, managed to get it to the table fairly hot.

After the meal was finished Coach Driscoll explained the plans for the afternoon game. Phillipsburg Academy had a light-weight and supposedly speedy team that relied on passing and running more than on line-smashing. Her punters were exceptionally good and her ends fast. To meet the Phillipsburg style of offence Parkinson would play her ends back and her tackles out, with Stone and Warden dividing the field. Phillipsburg made use of both the bunch and the one-man pass and used a lateral pass as well. If Phillipsburg switched her attack to the centre of the line, the Parkinson tackles were to come in again, but there were always to be two men up the field. On attack the Brown-and-White was to try out several new running plays and to use the forward-pass whenever practical inside the neutral zone.

Weve got a good chance, fellows, said Mr. Driscoll, to try out our passing and end-running plays against a team who has a scientific defence against them. If we make our passes go well have reason to be a bit satisfied with ourselves, for Phillipsburg has worked out a pretty good defence against the passing game. What she can do to stop end-runs remains to be seen. But youve got to start quick today and run hard and watch the holes, you backs. Youve got to show about twice the speed you showed against Cumner last week. If you dont, these chaps will make you look mighty poor.

Im going to see that every fellow has a look-in at some time during the game. We may lose the game, but were going to get experience. Mind, Im not saying we shall lose it or that we ought to, because I dont think for a moment that Phillipsburg is a bit better than we are, even if we use third-string players. If youll use your heads today, and play as fast as you know how, youll come out on top. I want to see that Number 12 play go smoothly today. Its a winner if you pull it right, but youve got to get together on it. All right. Any questions, fellows?

A few minutes later they crowded into two yellow trolley cars and went bouncing and swaying out toward the Academy, a mile from town. Dick had held a few hurried words with Stanley and Blash in the lobby. Rusty, it seemed, had disappeared while they had been having lunch in a white-enamelled place down the block and hadnt turned up since. Hes probably up to some idiotic tomfoolery, grumbled Stanley, and well have to go to the police station later and bail him out, I suppose. Well, good luck, Dick! Hope you get into it. If you do, remember the Maine and all that sort of thing!

The squad changed into football togs in a room assigned to their use in the Academy gymnasium and at a few minutes past two went across the elm-shaded school yard to the athletic field beyond. A tall youth with an embarrassed manner and a prominent Adams apple, the assistant manager of the Phillipsburg team, personally conducted them. The game was scheduled for half-past two and already the stands were well sprinkled with spectators. A cheering section of some hundred or so Parkinsonians was already in place and the Brown-and-White trotted onto the field to a quite noisy reception. Three squads took the gridiron for signal drill and the punters got busy. Dick accompanied the latter and punted and caught for a good fifteen minutes, getting rather warm during the proceedings. Phillipsburg arrived at two-twenty and hustled out for a warming-up. By that time the stands were about filled and the cheering was on in earnest. Then the teams retired to their benches, the captains met in midfield, shook hands and watched the flicking of a coin, and Bob Peters waved toward the south goal.

Means we won the toss, commented Jerry Wendell, right tackle. Well, here goes! Dick laid strong hands on Wendells sweater and the latter squirmed out like a moth from a chrysalis.

CHAPTER XII
THE PHILLIPSBURG GAME

There were not as many in attendance at the game as was usual at Parkinson, although Phillipsburg was a fair-sized city and Warne only an overgrown town. Perhaps the fact that Phillipsburg Academy was a very long mile from the city had something to do with the meagreness of the audience. At all events, aside from the rival cheering sections the stands showed long empty stretches, and Cardin, who shared an end of the bench with Dick, resented it.

Guess they must think this is a practice game, he grumbled.

Well, Mr. Driscoll seems to think so, too, said Dick. He says were all to have a show before its over.

Hell forget that, though, replied the other pessimistically, when we need a score to tie or something. Coaches are always making cracks like that and then forgetting em. Bet you I wont get in, Bates, and bet you you wont.

Dick shook his head. I might bet about you, but I wouldnt wager an old straw hat on my chances. Still, he said we would. There we go!

Long, who was at right half, had pulled down the home teams kick-off and started across the field with the ball, but the advance was short-lived, for a speedy Phillipsburg end soon had him, and it was Parkinsons ball on her twenty-two yards.

Kirkendall shot through the enemy left for three and then lost half the distance on a similar attempt. Stone punted to the Phillipsburg forty, a high kick that found both Peters and Furniss waiting when it came down. The catcher was downed in his tracks. Phillipsburg started in merrily with a twenty-yard pass diagonally across her line, but Peters smashed it aside and the ball went back. A second forward, this time to the opposite side, grounded, for Warden had run the receiver far out of position. Phillipsburg stabbed the Parkinson centre once in a half-hearted way and got a bare four feet and then punted. The ball, rising near the thirty yards, corkscrewed beautifully down to the opposite thirty-five where Warden got it but was stopped immediately. On the exchange Parkinson had gained ten yards. Kirkendall smashed the centre and got two, Warden added three and Stone again punted.

This time he managed a better ball, for it had both height and distance and was nicely placed in the left-hand corner of the field. With Peters and Furniss both on his heels, the Phillipsburg quarter made no attempt to catch, and it was Furniss who finally seized the bounding oval and downed it on the enemys twenty-seven. Phillipsburg split her line and shot the quarter through on a tricky dash that fooled the opponent nicely. When the quarter was stopped he had reeled off twelve yards and the ball was close to the boundary. The Phillipsburg rooters cheered lustily. An attempt to advance on the short side was foiled and the ball was paced in. On second down Phillipsburg was caught off-side and set back. A run half across the field netted but four yards and Phillipsburg punted from near her thirty-five, the ball going out at the visitors forty.

Kirkendall got clean away on the first run from kick formation and, with excellent interference, put eighteen yards behind him. Long was stopped and Warden made three. Kirkendall, again called on, tried left tackle and managed to make three more. Stone again punted.

On the side-line Coach Driscoll was frowning intently. Dick, noting, thought he understood. He had heard the final instructions in the gymnasium and recalled the coachs words distinctly: Keep out of their line, Stone, until youre certain you cant get your distance any other way. Now Stone seemed to have forgotten those instructions, for not once had a forward-pass been tried, while at least a half-dozen plays had been aimed inside the Phillipsburg tackles. Dick didnt see what Bob Peters had gained by giving the kick-off to the enemy and then promptly punting the ball back into her hands, nor what Stones idea was in kicking regularly on third down, irrespective of the distance lacking. However, it was possible that Stone had something up his sleeve, and when Phillipsburg had failed at a well-tried bunch forward and been stopped at the opponents left end and had punted to mid-field, Dick looked for another forward-pass. But it didnt materialise. Instead, Stone tried a delayed pass and got away with the ball very neatly along the left side. But an obstreperous Phillipsburg lineman wormed through and nailed him short of any gain. Kirkendall again retired to kicking position and, with the ball snuggled, shot off at a tangent for the enemys right. But the play worked less well this time. The interference was split and a Phillipsburg half nailed Kirkendall three yards past the line. Then the delayed forward-pass came and Warden tossed across to Peters. Peters tipped the throw but lost it. Again Stone punted, this time making a miserable failure of it and landing the ball but twenty yards away. It descended in the midst of a pushing crowd of opponents, leaped toward the side-line and was finally landed a few feet away.

For another three or four minutes the play hovered about midfield, neither side showing any indication of a consistent attack, and then the whistle blew. Coach Corliss summoned Cardin to him. Dick watched them in conversation a bit enviously. Then Cardin sped on, followed by Bartlett, a right guard, and Gross, a left tackle.

When play began again Stone was somewhat dourly looking on from the bench and Cardin was in command. Phillipsburg had made no changes. Phillipsburg shot a breath-taking forward from her thirty-seven yards to Parkinsons thirty-five, but, although it deserved to succeed, Bob Peters had his man guarded too closely and the pass grounded. A second attempt on a third down went better and Phillipsburg got seven yards, three more than needed. Then, on her forty-five, she started an advance that only slowed when she was under the Brown-and-Whites goal. Two forward-passes, each short but certain, took her well past midfield. After that two tricky split-plays let her clever quarter through for scandalous gains, and, almost before Parkinson realised what was happening, the ball was on the Brown-and-Whites twenty-one. There was much shouting from the stands, much anxiety on the benches as Phillipsburg stabbed the line once for practically no gain and then dropped a tackle back to kicking position.

Any fool could make a goal from there, growled Tip Harris, who, deposed from left tackle position, had seated himself beside Dick. Its dead in front of goal and not thirty yards!

But do they mean to try? asked Dick. Seems to me one of those short forwards of theirs

Yes, but I guess they want the three points, Bates. Theres a lot in getting first blood. Say, he doesnt act as if he meant to kick, though! By jiminy Tip raised his voice imploringly: Watch a run, Parkinson! Watch that man, Bob!

Mr. Driscoll, nearby, turned disapprovingly. Cut that, Harris, he ordered. Tip subsided, muttering. From the teams came many warnings: Hold that line, Phillipsburg! Hold that line! Break it up! Block this kick, Parkinson! Watch that half! Signals! Signals! Come on! Here we go!

Back shot the ball to the tall tackles waiting hands. The lines plunged and heaved. The tackle swung a long leg under him. But the ball hadnt left his hands, and now, pushing it into the crook of his left elbow, he sprang off to the left, the other backs closing in about him. As quickly as he had started, he stopped, swung directly about and, with two Parkinson men trying to reach him past his interference, raised the pigskin on high and threw far and swiftly. Thirty yards away a Phillipsburg end was streaking toward the corner of the field. Now he was past the line, well into the end zone, and not an opponent was near him. Straight for his upstretched hands flew the ball, like a brown streak, and not until too late did Parkinson see her danger. Then half a dozen of her defenders sprang toward the lone enemy. But the deed was done. Into his hands settled the ball, he turned on his heel and plunged toward the goal and when he had been rescued from under three brown-and-white legged opponents the pigskin was half-way between side-line and nearer goal-post.

Phillipsburg waved and cheered, and stood on the seats and howled, while from across the gridiron came a fainter but defiant Parkinson! Parkinson! PARKINSON! Mr. Driscoll turned his countenance to the bench and shook his head, smiling ruefully. Half our team asleep, fellows, he said. Scoville, go in for Furniss! Warm up, Gaines!

Phillipsburg missed a fairly easy goal after the touchdown and play began again in midfield. There was no more scoring in the quarter although Gaines, restored to his place at half, twice almost got clear. Under Cardins direction, Parkinson thrice tried forward-passes and but once succeeded. Then Gaines, catching, reeled off a dozen yards before he was forced out of bounds. The half ended with the score still 6-0.

There was some hard, plain talk in the gymnasium for the Parkinson audience. Mr. Driscoll was far from pleased and he didnt hesitate to make the fact known. You fellows have been taught football for two years, some of you longer, and yet you went out there and just stood around all during the first period. That sort of thing wont win games! Do something! Try something! If you cant do anything else, worry your opponent. All you did was to hand him the ball back. Stone, a lot of that was up to you. You had your instructions to try out your overhead game, and your running game, and what did you do? You went at the line every time you got the ball! Now Im going to start in with the beginning of this last half and use the bench. If you dont want to get licked, use your heads and play football! You can score if you try hard enough. You ought to score at least twice. And if you let those fellows get close enough to your goal to pull another of those forwards over the line you deserve to lose! You were all asleep, every man Jack of you! Long, where were you when that happened? And you, Gross? And you, Stone? Someones got to watch the end of the line, fellows! You cant all go off visiting like that! Youve each got a duty to perform on every play and you each know it, but just because the other fellow pulls something you havent met up with since last year you forget everything and go straggling after him to see what hell do! You stay in position after this, no matter what the other fellow does. Another thing and Im aiming this at you, Wendell, more than anyone watch your hands. The rules require that no part of your body shall be ahead of the line of scrimmage. If the umpire was strict hed have called you off-side twenty times. Keep your arms down and your hands back until the balls in play. After that I dont care how fast you bring them up. Now, then, were going to play fast ball this half. Pryne, youre quarter. Keep the team on the jump every minute. Start your signal the minute the whistle blows and make your men hustle to positions so that the play can snap off quickly. Youve been loafing for two periods. Now I want to see some work! I want a score inside the next twelve minutes. Heres the line-up.

That the coach meant to use the bench was very evident. Of the original starters only three remained, Kirkendall, Upton and Peters. Save for the former, the backfield was all new: Pryne at quarter, Skinner and Curtis at half: and in the line were five second and third-string players. That Parkinson could win with that aggregation was far too much to expect, and there were plenty who said so on the way back to the field when half-time was over. Stone was still disgruntled and very pessimistic, and he and Cardin grumbled together all during the third period. Usually they had little to say to each other, but today their wrongs drew them together.

That third period, in spite of the crape hangers, showed the visiting team to far better advantage. Although, as it turned out, Parkinson neither scored or came dangerously near scoring, she played a hard, earnest game and stopped every attempt of the opponent to get to her last line. In the first three minutes of the quarter Phillipsburg attempted a hopeless place-kick from the thirty-eight yards, but it landed far short, and after that her desperate forward-passes were always spoiled. It is only fair to say that luck favoured the visitors more than once, however. With an even break of fortune there might have been a different story to relate.





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