One lad is being told the difference in rushing the passer and passing the rusher. I remember we once discussed pursuit at a pregame meeting. "Boys," Coach White said, "we are going to go out there and look good today. Three people are sick, and we will have one player per suit." We lost 24-24. One of our touchdowns, the one that got us from 18 to 24, was called back because we ran it during a time-out. We counted it.
Just then the Raider offense tries out and enjoys a double reverse. It went for 20. A quarterback sneak is attempted. The Dictionary of American Sports defines a quarterback sneak on page 348, preceding quarter boots, as: "a play in which the quarterback on receiving the ball from the center instead of handing it off to a teammate keeps it and then attempts to run through the center of the line." The Raiders run it twice for 36 yards.
A post pattern is successful. A low outside football is much simpler to observe than a low outside curve. The 1956 edition of the Putnam Heights Panthers used a post pattern reluctantly. It caused my retirement. The post, although partially sawed off, was on the 30-yard line. It extended 12 inches above ground, the remnant of a parking barrier. I was a good 10 yards from it, but the inherent danger, the thought of it sticking in my ribs, induced my clumsiness.
The Raiders work on gang tackling. They are so quick they don't have to turn around to run backwards. Ten-year-old defensive linemen are built awfully close to the ground; therefore, if an offensive blocker is to block somebody's legs, he must tunnel in. Along the sidelines a man and a woman are pacing. They are by the water cooler. The Panthers had hot and cold walking water, in canteens. The couple is watching a particular halfback who is nearly first string. The halfback waves to his parents, causing a fumble. He is given a second chance, and the ball. He breaks through the line because much of the defense is passing the rusher, and veers left. One defender is not fooled at all. He crouches, comes up and smacks the halfback. I have seen that move before, on Saturdays and Sundays. It is a big-league move. Both players leave the ground, and there is a dull thud.
"My God," says the mother.
"Attababy," says the father. "Nice move, boy, keep those knees up. Attababy." The halfback bounces up, measures the gain of 13 yards, and rejoins the huddle.
In an area like Tulsa, where a young man's first move is made from a three-point stance, you don't worry much about injury. You worry about his speed in the 40. The people least concerned about the injuries are the players. Jerry Duff, president of the North Tulsa Lions Club, which sponsors Pee Wee football, says he has heard of only four broken bones resulting from on-the-field injuries. The equipment fits, the training is better than it used to be, and medical care is readily available.
The management of the Putnam Heights Panthers did not treat injury compassionately. Treatment was down to earth. Once our fullback was bitten severely about the hand and arm, and our coach prescribed a handful of dirt to be applied directly to the wound. "Rub some dirt on it" became the battle cry of our walking wounded. We learned to live with our injuries because much of our dirt also contained ants. Another of our coaches was positive that dirt could also heal broken bones. Shake it off. Rub some dirt on it. It's only a sprain. If it moves, it's not broken. Come on, son, get your game face on. What's that? It is on? Take a lap.
I suppose you can look at injury several ways. One, playing Pee Wee football is considered safer than riding a bike. Two, a boy may not be injured. Three, if he is injured, he will most likely mend. Four, if the injury is serious, his career will end early enough so that he can find something else to do. Knee injuries in Pee Wee football are seldom heard of.
Pee Wee football, which this year is in its 11th season in Tulsa, is not exempt from parental influence, but it seems less so than Little League baseball. This spring I went to a baseball game and I was threatened by a coach, pushed by a mother and beaned. A parent of a Pee Wee player is not allowed on the field. The coaches have ultimate control. The coach of one of the original Tulsa Pee Wee teams, Bob Meade, played football at Air Force. His staff included four ex-collegiate regulars and a former professional player. Meade produced an Oklahoma high school all-stater from each team he coached. Most every team in town has somehody on its staff who has played college football.