Red O'Sullivan's world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of closing, threatening to shutter the entire town. Red will be part of the final graduating class of Hatley High School, but he’s got his own burdens to bear: his older brother, Bobby, died in the war, and he's been struggling to follow in his footsteps ever since.

That means assuming Bobby's old position as quarterback, and leading the last-ever Muckers team to the championship. Maybe then his angry, broken-hearted father will acknowledge him, and they'll be able to put Bobby's death behind them.

While the Muckers are united, their town is divided. "Anglos" live near the top of the mountain and Mexican-Americans down below—where Red’s best friend Cruz lives, and Angie, who Red longs to be with. When the Communist scare threatens to tear the team apart, Red and the hardscrabble Muckers must find a way to go undefeated and win the state title.

Unforgettable characters fighting to make their mark on the field and in the world combine for a period novel that will spark dialogue on this timely subject of racism.

A Junior Library Guild Selection
“A richly textured portrayal of a small town coping with the economic, political and racial realities of post–World War II America. … Distinctive characters and finely drawn specifics of locale and landscape set this football story apart.”


“Wallace, a former ESPN correspondent, captures a vivid sense of atmosphere and well-wrought characters, all while showcasing balls-to-the-wall football action.”


“A raw, funny, powerful love story--about a place, about a time, about a way of life. It lets you fly, and it breaks your heart.” Chris Crutcher, bestselling author of Ironman and Whale Talk