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- Jack Winters' Gridiron Chums - 1/22 -


JACK WINTERS' GRIDIRON CHUMS

BY MARK OVERTON

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. GRUELLING FOOTBALL PRACTICE

II. THE BOY WHO WAS IN TROUBLE

III. BIG BOB CONFESSES

IV. A FRIEND IN NEED

V. A MESSAGE FROM MARSHALL

VI. JACK AND JOEL INVESTIGATE

VII. STRANGE FRUIT FOR A TREE TO BEAR

VIII. A CALL FOR HELP

IX. HEADED FOR THE FIELD OF BATTLE

X. WHEN THE GREAT GAME OPENED

XI. THE STRUGGLE ON THE GRIDIRON

XII. GLORY ENOUGH FOR ALL

XIII. WHEN BED FIRE BURNED IN CHESTER

XIV. WHAT FOLLOWED THE CELEBRATION

XV. IN THE BURNING HOUSE

XVI. JACK SPEAKS FOR LITTLE CARL

XVII. THE AFTERMATH OF A GOOD DEED

XVIII. BIG BOB BRINGS NEWS

XIX. LOCKING HORNS WITH HARMONY

XX. THE GREAT VICTORY--CONCLUSION

JACK WINTERS' GRIDIRON CHUMS

CHAPTER I

GRUELLING FOOTBALL PRACTICE

A shrill whistle sounded over the field where almost two dozen sturdily built boys in their middle 'teens, clad in an astonishing array of old and new football togs, had been struggling furiously.

Instantly the commotion ceased as if by magic at this intimation from the coach, who also acted in practice as referee and umpire combined, that the ball was to be considered "dead."

Some of those who helped to make the pack seemed a bit slow about relieving the one underneath of their weight, for a half-muffled voice oozed out of the disintegrating mass:

"Get off my back, some of you fellows, won't you? What d'ye take me for--a land tortoise?"

Laughing and joking, the remaining ingredients of the pyramid continued to divorce themselves from the heap that at one time had appeared to consist principally of innumerable arms and legs.

Last of all a long-legged boy with a lean, but good-natured face, now streaked with perspiration and dirt, struggled to his feet, and began to feel his lower extremities sympathetically, as though the terrific strain had centered mostly upon that particular part of his anatomy.

But under his arm he still held pugnaciously to the pigskin oval ball. The coach, a rather heavy-set man who limped a little, now came hurrying up. Joe Hooker had once upon a time been quite a noted college athlete until an accident put him "out of the running," as he always explained it.

He worked in one of Chester's big mills, and when a revolution in outdoor sports swept over the hitherto sleepy manufacturing town, Joe Hooker gladly consented to assume the congenial task of acting as coach to the youngsters, being versed in all the intricacies of gilt- edged baseball and football.

It had been very much owing to his excellent work as a severe drill- master that Chester, during the season recently passed, had been able actually to win the deciding game of baseball of the three played against the hitherto invincible Harmony nine.

Mr. Charles Taft, principal owner of the mill in question, was in full sympathy with this newly aroused ambition on the part of the Chester boys to excel in athletic sports. He himself had been a devoted adherent of all such games while in college, and the fascination had never entirely died out of his heart. So he saw to it that Joe Hooker had considerable latitude in the way of afternoons off, in order that the town boys might profit by his advice and coaching.

"A clever run, that, Joel," he now told the bedraggled boy who had just been downed, after dragging two of his most determined opponents several yards. "The ball still belongs to your side. Another yard, my lad, and you would have made a clean touchdown. A few weeks of hard practice like this and you boys, unless I miss my guess, ought to be able to put old Chester on the gridiron map where she belongs. Now let's go back to the tackle job again, and the dummy. Some of you, I'm sorry to say, try to hurl yourselves through the air like a catapult, when the rules of the game say plainly that a tackle is only fair and square so long as one foot remains in contact with the ground."

So Joe Hooker had been laying down the law to his charges every decent afternoon, when school was out, for going on two weeks now. He seemed to feel very much encouraged over the progress made by a number of the boys.

Already he had weeded out three aspirants for honors on the eleven, who had shown no genuine aptitude for the exciting game where headwork and footwork combined go to bring success.

Others feared the coach had his eagle eye fastened on them, being doubtless conscious-stricken with the knowledge that they were not in their element. Indeed, it was no unusual thing to hear one of these boys say to his mates that he hardly knew whether he cared to try for the squad after all; which admission would serve to let him down gracefully in case his suspicions were later on confirmed.

But there were others who developed wonderfully under the friendly instruction of the one-time star player. Among them, besides the tall chap, Joel Jackman, might be mentioned a number of boys whose acquaintance the reader of other volumes in this series has already formed.

There was Jack Winters, looked upon as a leader in all sports, and late captain of the baseball nine; it seemed to be already taken for granted that he was bound to be given some position on the gridiron, for Jack seemed to have a wonderful faculty for getting the best out of those who played in strenuous games with him.

Jack Winters was really something of a newcomer in Chester, but he had hardly landed in the old town than something seemed to awaken; for Jack made up his mind it was a shame that, with so much good material floating around loose, Chester could not emulate the example of the neighboring towns of Harmony and Marshall, and do something. There were those who said Jack's coming was to Chester like the cake of yeast set in a pan of dough, for things soon began to happen.

Then there was Toby Hopkins, one of Jack's particular chums, a lively fellow, and a general favorite. Another who bore himself well, and often elicited a word of praise from the coach, was sturdy Steve Mullane, also a chum of the Winters boy. Besides these, favorable mention might also be made of Big Bob Jeffries, who surely would be chosen to play fullback on account of his tremendous staying qualities; Fred Badger, the lively third baseman who had helped so much to win that deciding game from Harmony before a tremendous crowd of people over in the rival town; and several other boys who may be recognized as old acquaintances when the time comes to describe their doings on the gridiron.

It was now well into October.

Already the leaves had begun to turn scarlet and gold on some of the hedges, and even in the forest, where the boys were beginning to go for the early nuts. Early in the mornings there was a decided tang to the air that hinted at frost. Considerable talk was being indulged in whenever a group of boys came together, concerning the prospects for a regular old-fashioned winter, and many hopes along this line were indulged in.

There was a good reason for this, Chester being most favorably situated to afford her young people a chance to enjoy ice sports when the bitter weather came along. Right at her door lay beautiful Lake Constance, several miles across; and the intake at the upper end near the abandoned logging camp was the crooked and picturesque Paradise River, where wonderful vistas opened up with each hundred yards, did any one care to skate up its course for miles.

And with this newly aroused spirit for outdoor sports in the air, also a splendid gymnasium in the course of building where the boys of Chester could enjoy themselves stormy days, and many nights, during the winter, it can be easily understood that a glorious prospect loomed up before them. Why, over in Harmony they were getting decidedly envious of the good luck that had befallen Chester; and all reports agreed that their football squad was working fiercely overtime with the idea of overwhelming utterly all rivals on the gridiron, once


Jack Winters' Gridiron Chums - 1/22

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