The Half-Back eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 185 pages of information about The Half-Back.

     “Hilltonians, Hilltonians, your crimson banner fling
      Unto the breeze, and ’neath its folds your anthem loudly sing! 
      Hilltonians, Hilltonians, we stand to do or die,
      Beneath the flag, the crimson flag, that waves for victory!”

CHAPTER XVIII.

VISITORS FROM MARCHDALE.

Despite Joel’s dark forebodings, he was at last released from tackling practice.  And with that moment he began to take hope for better things.  Under the charge of Kent, one of the coaches and an old Harwell half, Joel was instructed in catching punts till his arms ached and his eyes watered, and in kicking until he seemed to be one-sided.  Starting with the ball he no longer dreaded, since he had mastered that science and could now delight the coach by leaping from a stand as though shot from the mouth of a cannon.

Signals he had no trouble with.  His memory was excellent, and he possessed the faculty of rapid computation; though as yet his brain had been but little taxed, since the practice code was still in use.  At the end of the third week both Varsity and scrub teams were at length selected, and Joel, to his delight, found himself playing left-half on the latter.  Two match games a week was now the rule for the Varsity, and Joel each Wednesday and Saturday might have been found seated under the fence dividing the gridiron from the grand stand wrapped nearly from sight, if the afternoon was chilly, in a great gray blanket, and watching the play with all the excited ardor of the veriest schoolboy on the stand behind.

One Saturday Prince, the Varsity left-half, twisted his ankle, and Joel was taken on in his place.  They were playing Amherst, and Joel has ever since held that college in high esteem, for that it was against its Eleven he made his debut into Harwell football life.  And how he played!  The captain smiled as he watched him prance down the field after a punt, never content to be there in time, but always striving to get there first, and not seldom succeeding.  Once he succeeded too well.

It was in the second half.  Blair—­it was his first year on the team—­was playing full-back.  On a first down he punted the ball a long and rather low kick into Amherst’s territory.  Joel bowled over an Amherst end who was foolish enough to get in the way and started down the field like an Indian warrior on the war path.  The Harwell ends were a little in advance but off to the sides, and Joel sprinted hard and easily passed them both.  Kingdon, the right half, gave him a good run, but he too was passed, and Joel reached the Amherst full-back just as that gentleman turned for the ball, which had passed unexpectedly over his head.  The goal line was but thirty yards distant.  Joel saw only the full-back, the ball, and the goal line.  He forgot everything else.  A small cyclone struck the full, and when he picked himself up it was to see a crimson-legged player depositing the pigskin back of goal and to hear a roar of laughter from the seats!

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The Half-Back from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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