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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The afternoon-shadow-lengthening season finally got under way again in dead earnest all over the country; hundreds of big shadows, which had allowed themselves to get a bit frowsy around the edges while lengthening, month after month, in stadiums populated solely by pigeons and ground-keepers, policed themselves up and slid down across their respective goal lines as nicely as hair oil on a barbershop floor. They caught all sorts of young men of distinction warring violently at football.
? Notre Dame's boy wonder, 26-year-old Coach Terence Patrick Brennan, began his career with grimly adult assurance; the Fighting Irish, led by Quarterback Ralph Guglielmi, got the Brennan regime off to a racing start by shutting out the tough University of Texas Longhorns, 21-0, while 57,594 cheered at South Bend (see pp. 58, 59). Other even more decisive thrashings were administered: Wisconsin beat Marquette 52-14; U.C.L.A. invaded the midwest and clobbered Kansas 32-7, and Duke beat the very scrapple out of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia's Franklin Field in a game which ended with the score 52-0.
?The surprise of the week was worked by the University of South Carolina Gamecocks?a team modestly characterized by its press agent as one involved in a period of growth and hope for the future. The Gamecocks, using two separate, distinct and equally ferocious backfields, upset Army 34-20 at West Point and seemed completely unastounded as they did so. Penn State bottled up Illinois' backfield flash, J. C. Caroline, and edged out the favored Illini, 14-12. Florida dumped Georgia Tech, 13-12. But the most genuinely amazing development prevented rather than instituted an upset; Texas Christian attempted a pass into the University of Oklahoma's end zone and was credited with a touchdown, but T.C.U. Captain Johnny Crouch honestly confessed that the ball had bounced before it was gathered in?thus, in the end, enabling Oklahoma to win, 21-16.
?On the eve of the World Series, the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers, 11-1 and, in so doing, set an American League record of 111 victories in one season. The previous record: 110 games, set by the 1927 Yankees.
Closed: gone to game
La Vega High School in Bellmead, Texas, just outside Waco, has a student body of 427 this year. Of this number, 29 students play team football, 30 play B team ball and 28 ninth-graders play junior high football. That gives La Vega 87 boys playing inter-scholastic football and in addition the school has a band of 87 let-us-say musicians (boys and girls) and a girls' pep squad of 80. Thus, more than half the students of La Vega High, 254 out of 427, are active in some aspect of football.
Enough of figures. This town is football happy. It is the football-happiest town in the football-happy state of Texas.
When La Vega students change classes they march to the rhythm of "beat 'em black and blue" rhymes. The Lions Club devotes most of its fall meetings to football talk. There is a Quarterbacks Club. There are a couple of old geezers who wait every day for Coach Paul Smith to come into the drugstore for his morning coffee and when he does they tell him how to run the team. Fifty or 60 cars line up for practice every afternoon. On Friday nights, which are game nights, the whole town closes down tight. Signs in store windows read: "Gone to game."