Punching such a clock, Hall had little time to fret about the football team's record. "I'd rather have seen us win one, but you put the losses behind you," he said. "It's different when you think about it. It doesn't seem possible. One of these days we've got to win." As things turned out, Hall quit the team with two games left to play. It came after the loss in Janesville, in protest over the suspension from the squad of one of his friends—the kid had cut school.
In any case, Ranger's parents, Roger and Gloria, had more on their minds than football games, though they regularly attended them to watch Ranger play and their daughter, Robin, lead cheers. Roger was working two jobs, farming the land by day and working at Farmstead by night. Gloria was holding down three jobs. In the morning she drove a school bus. At midday she worked as a cook in a nursing home in Albert Lea. Home by 2 p.m., she did another tour in the school bus. At night, for five hours, she supervised a custodial detail cleaning the Freeborn County Court House in Albert Lea. She was home by 9:30. They were working to save their farm.
"The football team and the farm economy have brought people together," Gloria said. "It's hard. There aren't enough jobs. People are working for minimum wage. It's not hard to be humble. I want to pay my bills. I only hope to live long enough to pay them."
Like the Halls, the Fosses were doing their best to keep the wolf away. Allan Foss was one of the Hormel strikers. His wife, Crystal, had taken a computer programming job in Albert Lea. The idea of not winning a single varsity game in high school had preyed on their oldest son, Jeff, as it was now preying on his brothers Dan, a 240-pound senior tackle (who enjoys playing Bach on the family piano), and Joey, a sophomore quarterback.
Sitting with his parents at their kitchen table one evening, with three games still to play, Dan said quietly, "It's really starting to get to me. It's frustrating. We'll run three or four good plays and then fumble."
"I feel real bad for the kids," said Allan. "It's been tough."
Dan smiled. "I think the parents feel worse than the kids," he said.
"You feel helpless," said Crystal. "The beginning of the season isn't so bad, but after the sixth or seventh game, it's hard."
"No one cares about sports in Glenville anymore," said Dan. "We're not winning. Some kids go out, but there's a lot more that don't." In fact, only five Glenville juniors went out for football this year, and this from a class that had some 20 players out four years ago. The most prominent absentee, Mark Schumaker, a 6'1", 175-pound fullback, said he needed to work to pay off debts incurred when he got into an auto accident while driving without insurance. As for all those other juniors not playing, he said, "They figure, 'We're not gonna win, so why go out?' Next year, everyone is going out. We've been called the rowdiest class in the school. We're going to show them that, even if we are rowdy, we can win a football game."
Dan Foss has no intention of dwelling on the football record. "I feel bad about it, but it's not something that's gonna stick with me," he said. "I want to go to college and make something of myself.... At least we've got the guts to go out there—at least we're having fun. I still enjoy it.... I don't know what I'd give to win. It would be so wonderful."