Lonesome End, by Stephen W. Meader
Four out of five stars
The title is a reference to a trick play run by the Prairie High football team rather than any reference to the life of Tod Rose, the main character. Tod is growing up in rural Kansas and lives on a large cattle ranch. With farm chores an everyday occurrence, he has had little time for extra activities at school. When he decides to go out for football, his father acquiesces, but only if he still manages to perform his farm duties. Tod’s main form of personal transportation is a horse, although a teammate is generally available for rides.
Tod proves to be a natural pass catching end and the years of farm work have made him rugged far beyond his weight. He quickly rises to the varsity and the team succeeds and is on a path to win a championship. However, there are many hurdles, including injuries, bad weather and some highly skilled opponents.
Unlike many other adolescent sports fiction books, this one involves girls. Mary Ann is the head cheerleader and her father is a wealthy local businessman. Despite their differences, they see a lot of each other in a very proper relationship between a boy and a girl. While there is some predictability to the story with the big game at the end, there is no dramatic last-second score by Prairie High. Just a steady, play-by-play victory, which is how most football games are won.
There are villains in this story, but not on the gridiron. Most of the play is clean, there are no hotheads and Tod is a well-rounded high school boy. He does his work on the ranch, does well in school, has a girlfriend and plays a good, clean game of football. That is the moral of this story, doing what needs to be done and doing it well.