Ralph Barbour.

Right Guard Grant





How long have you been playing the tackle position? he asked.

About three weeks, replied Leonard. That explains it, doesnt it? He added an apologetic smile.

Explains what? Oh, Im not ragging you, Grant. Why, say, you and I had some swell times! If youve been at it only three weeks, Ill say youre pretty good. But whered you been playing?

Guard. I played guard two years at high school.

Guard, eh? Billy looked slightly puzzled. Must have had a fairly light team, I guess. You dont look heavy enough for that, Grant.

I am sort of light, sighed Leonard.

Yes. Billy sized him up frankly. Youre quick, though, and I certainly like that. Had me guessing lots of times, I dont mind telling you.

Oh, I dont know, Leonard murmured. Im pretty green at it.

Youll do, said Billy. But, say, mind if I give you a couple of tips? It may sound cheeky, but

Gee, not a bit! protested the other. I wish you would. I its mighty good of you.

Well, I dont pretend to know everything about playing tackle, Billy answered, but there are one or two things I have learned, and Im glad to pass them on to you, Grant, because you play a pretty nice game. Maybe if you were pressing me a bit closer for the position I wouldnt be so gabby. Billy grinned. One thing is this, son. Watch the other fellows eyes and not his hands. I noticed you kept looking at my hands or my arms. Dont do it. Not, at least, if you want to get the jump on your opponent. Watch his eyes, son. Another thing is, dont give yourself away by shifting too soon. You come forward every time with the foot thats going to take your weight. There are several ways of standing, and its best to stand the way that suits you, but I like to keep my feet about even. That doesnt give me away. Then when I do start its too late for the other fellow to do any guessing. See what I mean?

Leonard nodded, but a little doubtfully. I think so. But we were taught to put one foot well behind us so wed have a brace if the opponent

Sure, thats all right if youve got to let the other fellow get away first. But you dont need to. You start before he does, Grant. Look. Billy held his hands out, palms upward, elbows close to his body. Come up under him like that, both legs under you until youre moving forward. Then step out, right or left, and get your leverage. Push him straight back or pivot him. You havent given yourself away by moving your feet about or shifting your weight beforehand. You try it some time.

I will, thanks, answered Leonard gratefully.

And theres one more thing. There was a wicked glint in Billys eyes. Keep your head down so the other fellow cant get under your chin. Ive known fellows to get hurt that way.

Leonard smiled. So have I, he said.

Billy laughed and slapped him on the knee. Youll do, General Grant, he declared. He turned to Jim Newton, and Leonard, considering what he had been told, didnt note for a moment that Gordon Renneker was speaking across the room to Slim.

When he did, Renneker was saying:

Baseball? No, very little. Ive got a brother who goes in for it, though.

Oh, replied Slim, I thought maybe you pitched. Youve sort of got the build, you know, Renneker. Hasnt he, Charlie?

Charlie Edwards agreed that he had, looking the big guard up and down speculatively. Renneker shrugged his broad shoulders and smiled leniently. Never tried it, he said in his careful way. The few times I have played Ive been at first. But Im no baseball artist.

First, eh? commented Slim. By Jove, you know, you ought to make a corking first baseman! Say, Charlie, youd better get after him in the spring.

Edwards nodded and answered: I certainly mean to, Slim.

Nevertheless it seemed to Leonard that the baseball captains tone lacked enthusiasm. Slim, Leonard noted, was smiling complacently, and Leonard thought he knew what was in his chums mind. Shortly after that the crowd broke up and on the way over to Haylow Slim asked: Did you hear what Renneker said when I asked him if he played baseball?

Yes, said Leonard. Slim hadnt once mentioned the subject of Johnny McGraths suspicions since that Sunday afternoon, and Leonard had concluded that the matter was forgotten. Now, however, it seemed that it had remained on Slims mind, just as it had on his.

He said, mused Slim, that he didnt play. At least very little. Then he said that when he did play he played at first base. What do you make of that, General?

Very little. Naturally, if he should play baseball hed go on first, with that height and reach of his. I noticed that Edwards didnt seem very keen about him for the nine.

Yes, I noticed that, too. Slim relapsed into a puzzled silence. Then, at last, just as they reached the dormitory entrance, he added: Oh, well, I guess Johnny just sort of imagined it.

I suppose so, Leonard agreed. Only, if he didnt

If he didnt, what? demanded Slim.

Why, wouldnt it be up to us or Johnny McGrath to tell Mr. Cade or some one?

And get Renneker fired? inquired Slim incredulously, as he closed the door of Number 12 behind him.

Well, but, if he took money for playing baseball, Slim, he hasnt any right on the football team, has he? Didnt you say yourself that faculty would fire him if it was so, and they knew it?

If they knew it, yes, agreed Slim. Now, look here, General, theres no sense hunting trouble. We dont know anything against Renneker, and so theres no reason for starting a rumpus. A fellow is innocent until hes proven guilty, and its not up to us to pussyfoot about and try to get the goods on Renneker. Besides, ding bust it, theres only Johnny McGraths say-so, and every one knows how er imaginative the Irish are!

All right, agreed Leonard, smiling. Just the same, Slim, you arent fooling me much. You believe theres something in Johnnys story, just as I do.

Piffle, answered Slim. Johnnys a Sinn Feiner. The Irish are all alike. They believe in fairies. You just cant trust the unsupported statement of a chap who believes in fairies!

You surely can work hard to fool yourself, laughed Leonard. I suppose youre right, Slim, but it would be sort of rotten if one of the other schools got hold of it and showed Renneker up.

Not likely, General. You stop troubling your brain about it. Best thing to do is forget it. Thats what Im going to do. Besides, I keep telling you theres nothing in it.

I know. And I want to believe it just as much as you do, only

There isnt any only! Dry up, and put the light out!

On Saturday Leonard was very glad indeed that, in Slims words, there wasnt any only, for without Gordon Renneker the Mt. Millard game might have ended differently. Renneker found himself in that contest. Slim always maintained that the explanation lay in the fact that Rennekers opponent, one Whiting, was, like Renneker, a big, slow-moving fellow who relied more on strength than speed; and Slim supported this theory by pointing out that in the last quarter, when a quicker and scrappier, though lighter, man had taken Whitings place Renneker had relapsed into his customary form. Leonard reminded Slim that by that time Renneker had played a long, hard game and was probably tired out. Slim, however, remained unconvinced. But whatever the reason may have been, the big right guard on the Alton team played nice, steady football that Saturday afternoon. His work on defense was better than his performance when the Gray-and-Gold had the ball, just as it had been all season. He seemed to lack aggression in attack. But Coach Cade found encouragement and assured himself that Renneker could be taught to play a better offensive game by the time the Kenly Hall contest faced them. The big guard had been causing him not a little worry of late.

Mt. Millard brought over a clever, fast team that day. Her line was only a few pounds lighter than Altons, but in the backfield the Gray-and-Gold had it all over her in weight, even when Menge was playing. Mt. Millards backs were small and light, even her full-back running to length more than weight. Her quarter was a veritable midget, and if Alton had not witnessed his work for two years she might have feared for his safety amongst all those rough players! But Marsh was able to look after himself, as well as the rest of the team, and do it in a highly scientific manner. In spite of his diminutive size he was eighteen years of age and had played two seasons with Mt. Millard already. For that matter, the visitors presented a veteran team, new faces being few and far between.

Alton looked for trouble from the enemys passing game and didnt look in vain. On the third play Mt. Millard worked a double pass that was good for nearly thirty yards and, less than eighty seconds after the whistle, was well into Alton territory. That fright for it was a fright put the home team on her mettle, and a subsequent play of a similar style was foiled with a loss of two yards. Mt. Millard was forced to punt from Altons thirty-seven. Cricket Menge caught and made a startling run-back over three white lines. Then Alton tried her own attack and had slight difficulty in penetrating Mt. Millards lighter line. Greenwood ripped his way through for three and four yards at a time and Reilly twice made it first down on plays off the tackles. It was Reds fumble near his own forty that halted that advance. Mt. Millard got the ball and started back with it.

From tackle to tackle the Alton line was invulnerable, save for two slight gains at Smedleys position. Mt. Millards only chance, it seemed, was to run the ends, and that she did in good style until the opponent solved her plays and was able to stop them twice out of three times. But the visitor had brought along a whole bagful of tricks, and as the first period they were playing twelve-minute quarters to-day neared its end she opened the bag. Alton had plunged her way to the enemys thirty-seven, and there Menge, trying to cut outside of left tackle, had become involved with his interference and been thrown for a two-yard loss. It was third down and six to go, and Joe Greenwood dropped back eight yards behind center and spread his hands invitingly. But the ball went to Reilly and Red cut the six yards down to three by a plunge straight at center. Goodwin went back once more, and this time took the pigskin. But, although he swung a long leg, the ball wasnt kicked. Instead it went sailing through the air to the side of the field where Menge was awaiting it. Unfortunately, though, Cricket was not the only one with a desire for the ball, and a fraction of a second before it was due to fall into his hands a long-legged adversary leaped upward and captured it. Cricket tackled instantly and with all the enthusiasm of an outraged soul and the long-legged one came heavily to earth, but the ball was back in the enemys hands and again Altons triumph had been checked.

One hopeless smash at the Gray-and-Gold line that netted less than a yard, and Mt. Millard opened her bag of tricks. Speaking broadly, there arent any new plays in football and cant be except when an alteration of the rules opens new possibilities. What are called new plays are usually old plays revived or familiar plays in novel disguise. Mt. Millard, then, showed nothing strictly original that afternoon, but some of the things she sprang during the remainder of that game might almost as well have been fresh from the mint so far as effectiveness was concerned. During the minute or two that remained of the first period she made her way from her own thirty-two yards to Altons sixteen in four plays, while the home team supporters looked on aghast. First there was a silly-looking wide-open formation with every one where he shouldnt have been, to meet which Alton rather distractedly wandered here and there and edged so far back that when, instead of the involved double or perhaps triple-pass expected, a small half-back took the ball from center and ran straight ahead with it, he found almost no opposition until he had crossed the scrimmage line. After that, that he was able to dodge and twirl and throw off tacklers until Billy Wells brought him down from behind just over the fifty-yard line, was owing to his own speed and cunning.

When Mt. Millard again spread wide Alton thought she knew what was coming, and this time her ends dropped back only some five yards and, while displaying customary interest in the opposing ends, kept a sharp watch on the wide holes in the line. What happened was never quite clear to them, for Mt. Millard pulled things off with dazzling speed. The ball shot back from center and well to the left. Some one took it and started to run with it, while the broken line of forwards came together in a moving wall of interference. Alton was not to be held at bay so easily, and she went through. By that time the runner with the ball was well over toward the side-line on his left and when his wall of interference disintegrated he stopped suddenly in his journey, wheeled about and threw the pigskin diagonally across the field to where, lamentably ostracized by Alton, the attenuated full-back was ambling along most unostentatiously. That throw was magnificent both as to distance and accuracy, and it reached the full-back at a moment when the nearest Alton player was a good twenty feet distant. What deserved to be a touchdown, however, resulted in only a seventeen-yard gain, for the full-back, catching close to the side-line, with Slim Staples hard on his heels and Appel coming down on him in front, made the mistake of not edging out into the field while there was still time. The result of this error in tactics was one false step that put a flying foot barely outside the whitewashed streak at the thirty-two yards. I think the referee hated to see that misstep, for if ever a team deserved a touchdown that team was Mt. Millard. Even the Alton stands had to applaud that play.

Mt. Millard went back to regular formation when the ball had been stepped in, and I think Alton breathed easier. The diminutive quarterback used a delayed pass and himself attempted Slims end and managed to squirm around for three yards. That took the pigskin to Altons twenty-nine, and with three more downs to draw on there seemed no reason why the visitors shouldnt score a field-goal at least. The Alton stands chanted the Hold, Alton! slogan and the visiting contingent shouted loudly and appealingly for a touchdown. The Mt. Millard left half moved back to kicking position and the ball was passed. But, instead of a drop-kick, there was a puzzling double-pass behind the enemys line and an end, running behind, shot out at the right with the ball snuggled against his stomach and ran wide behind a clever interference to the sixteen yards. Again it was first down, and the enemy had reeled off just fifty-four yards in four plays! It was one of those things that simply couldnt be done and had been done!

Before Marsh could call his signals again the quarter ended.

CHAPTER XII
VICTORY HARD WON

The long-suffering reader mustnt think that I have any intention of inflicting on him a detailed account of the remaining three periods of that game. I have offended sufficiently already. Besides, it was that first period, with a few moments of the second, and the last quarter only that held the high lights. The in-between was interesting to watch, but it would be dull reading.

Mt. Millard started the second period on Altons sixteen and, perhaps just to show that she could perform the feat against a still bewildered opponent, slashed a back through between Newton and Renneker for three yards on a fake run around end. Of course had she tried such a thing a second time it wouldnt have come off, but Marsh had no intention of trying it. He deployed his ends, sent his goal-kicker back and then heaved across the center of the line. Fortunately for the defenders of the south goal, Reilly knocked down the ball. After that there wasnt much left for Mt. Millard but a try-at-goal, and after a conference between captain and quarter the try was made. The kicker retreated a good twelve yards from his center, which took him close to the twenty-five line, a retreat that in view of subsequent happenings was well advised. For Alton, stung by recent reverses, piled through the Mt. Millard forwards and hurled aside the guardian backs. It was just those added yards that defeated her. The ball, hurtling away from the kickers toe, passed safely above upstretched hands and sailed over the cross-bar.

Mt. Millard did a few hand-springs while a 3 was placed to her credit on the score-board, and her delighted supporters yelled themselves hoarse. There was noticeable lack of enthusiasm on the other side of the field, although by the time the opponents again faced each other for the kick-off the Alton cheerers had found their voices again. The balance of the second period held its moments of excitement, but on the whole it was tame and colorless after that first quarter. Alton, regaining the ball after she had kicked it off, started another pilgrimage to the distant goal, smearing the enemy with hard, old-style football and eating up ground steadily if slowly. Once Menge got safely away around the Mt. Millard left end and shot over sixteen yards of trampled turf before an enemy stood him on his head, but for the rest it was gruelling work, the more gruelling as the attack drew near the edge of scoring territory. If Mt. Millard was light of weight she was nevertheless game, and seldom indeed did the Alton attack get started before the enemy was half-way to meet it. Reilly gave place to Kendall in the middle of the journey, and Smedley to Stimson. Mt. Millard likewise called on two fresh recruits to strengthen her line. Alton hammered her way to the Mt. Millard twenty-eight yards and there struck a snag. Greenwood failed to gain at the center, Kendall was repulsed for a slight loss, Greenwood made four on a wide run from kicking position, and then, with seven to gain on fourth down, it was put up to Captain Emerson, and that youth tried hard to tie the score with a placement-kick from just back of the thirty yards. The aim was true enough, but Rus hadnt put quite enough into the swing of his leg and the ball passed just under the bar, so close to it, indeed, that deceived Alton supporters cheered loudly and long before they discovered their error. Mt. Millard kicked on second down and the few plays that brought the half to an end were all in Alton territory.

The visitor presented the same line-up when the third quarter began. For Alton, Red Reilly was back at right half and Garrick was at center in place of Newton. Alton was expected to return refreshed and determined and wreak swift vengeance on the foe, and the anxious cheerers gave the players a fine welcome when they trotted back to the gridiron. But although the Gray-and-Gold seemed to have profited by the interim and played with more skill than before, Mt. Millard was still clever enough to hold her off during the succeeding twelve minutes. Alton tried three forward-passes and made one of them good. This brought a reward of fourteen yards. Another pass grounded and a third went to Mt. Millard. To offset that fourteen yards, the Gray-and-Gold was twice penalized for off-side. Twice Alton reached the enemys thirty-yard line only to be turned back. The first time Greenwood missed the pass for a six-yard loss and was forced to punt and the other time Mt. Millard intercepted Appels toss across the left wing. When, at last, the whistle once more sounded, the ball was in Altons hands close to Mt. Millards forty-yard line. The teams changed goals and the final period started.

Greenwood got seven yards outside right tackle and put the ball on Mt. Millards thirty-four. Menge made one through left guard. With two to go, Greenwood smashed through the left of center for six, but the horn sounded and the ball was put back fifteen yards for holding. Greenwood ran from kicking position, but a ubiquitous Mt. Millard end dumped him well back of the line. Greenwood punted to the corner of the field and the ball rolled across the goal-line. Mt. Millard got four yards in two plunges at Stimson and then made the rest of her distance by sending a half around Slims end. Another attempt at Stimson was good for three yards, but when the full-back tried Renneker he was stopped short. On third down Marsh threw across the field to a waiting half, but Slim knocked the ball aside just short of the receivers hands. Mt. Millard punted to Altons twenty-eight and Appel caught and by clever dodging raced back to the forty-one.

Then Altons big drive began. Using a tackles-back shift, Appel sent Greenwood and Reilly and again Greenwood at the Mt. Millard line, first on one side of center and then on the other, and took the pigskin into the enemys country. Then Menge got three around left and Slim, running behind, added three more on a wide expedition in the same direction. Greenwood threw short across the center to Captain Emerson, and Rus made five before he was thrown. From the thirty-seven the ball went more slowly, but no less certainly to the twenty-five. There a skin tackle play at the right gained but a yard, and Greenwood again threw forward, the ball grounding. From kick formation Greenwood raced around left for five. With six to go he stood back as if to try a goal, but the ball went to Reilly who, with the right tackle ahead of him, dug a passage through center and made the necessary four yards. After that there was no stopping the invasion. From the fifteen to the four Reilly and Greenwood, alternating, went in four tries. With the Alton stand cheering madly, imploringly, little Menge slid around left end while the attack was faked at the center and made the one-yard. From there Greenwood was pushed over on the second attempt.





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