Football Genius, by Tim Green ISBN 9780061122736
Four out of five stars
This book of adolescent sports fiction uses an interesting and non-traditional premise. Troy White is a good youth football player, he plays quarterback, but even though he is the best one on the team, he is the backup to the coach’s son. His female friend Tate also loves football and is the kicker on their team.
However, Troy’s real skill is in predicting what play a pro offense is going to run based on the circumstances and formation. It takes him a few plays in order to get into the flow of the game, but once he is on, he very rarely fails. His favorite team is the local Atlanta Falcons and he is desperate to speak to the coaches so that he can show them his skills.
Through some subterfuge, he is able to meet Falcons linebacker Seth Halloway and demonstrate his skills in prediction. After some initial failures that includes an assistant coach that would rather lose games than admit his errors, Troy becomes a valuable addition to the Falcons’ staff and finds a new man in his mother’s life. There is a big game at the end, but there is no lengthy, tense buildup to the climax.
The problem with this book is that it portrays some of the coaches as rather ignorant and foolishly self-serving. One of the coaches of the Falcons openly admits to players that he wants the team to do poorly and the coach of the junior league team will not consider replacing his son as quarterback, even though Troy is clearly superior. While such things happen, they are not the best messages for young people in sports.