Steve Hunt has
developed a personal style for running this drill. Despite his size, he's the
second-fastest man on the team, only a shade slower than Noel. However, the big
lineman shows off his speed only once in each circle drill. Normally, he lopes
along just fast enough to prevent anyone from catching him from behind, but
once in each set he turns it on, sprints the whole way, sometimes catching
nearly everyone else. The last man he passes, he shoves hard and knocks flat.
Neither the flattened player nor anyone else complains about Hunt's private
game. Being flattened occasionally is the unavoidable consequence of having a
horse like Hunt on your team.
Watching one of
the hot afternoon practices is the large father of a small underclassman who,
it has already become apparent, will be no more than an occasional reserve.
This is probably the reason the father, an ex-player, is sour. "How do you
expect to have a team if they don't work up a sweat?" he says. "When I
was playing, those coaches worked us until our tails dragged. Games were
nothing after our practices. How are they going to hit in a game if they don't
sweat in practice?"
As the practices
continue, it develops that Tom Bowyer, a junior, is probably going to be a
starter on the offensive line. Bowyer is a 200-pounder, but he appears to be
more chubby than muscular, and he looks very young. He is quiet but candid when
asked about his assignment.
frightened," he says.
about playing in a varsity game?"
"I guess I'm
nervous about that, but I'm frightened by Steve Hunt. I have to play across
from him in every scrimmage. I've been frightened for three weeks."
opener is an away game against South Haven, a semi-resort community on Lake
Michigan, 40 miles to the west. The Kalamazoo Gazette, the daily paper that
serves southwestern Michigan, has picked the South Haven Rams to win the
Wolverine Conference, and it makes the Rams 13-point favorites over the
The final school
period each Friday is set aside for a pep rally. It is held in the gymnasium
and attendance is obligatory. "Football and the football spirit help bring
the school together," says John MacDonald, the Vicksburg principal and
himself a former player and coach. "It is a fact that we have fewer
discipline problems during football season. It gives the whole school something
to be excited about, and it is stimulating in a constructive way. Another
thing, you seldom have serious discipline problems with varsity athletes. They
can be wild and rowdy, but they are seldom malicious."
because everybody, especially coaches, is trying to keep them out of trouble so
they can play?"
"There may be
some of that, but I think it is more that sports appeal to boys who have a
little self-discipline. They have to be motivated to show up every day for
practice, give up some of their individual freedom to achieve a collective