Our Boys by Joe Drape
A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen

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An inspiring portrait of the extraordinary high-school football team whose quest for perfection sustains its hometown in the heartland

The football team in Smith Center, Kansas, has won sixty-seven games in a row, the nation’s longest high-school winning streak. They have done so by embracing a philosophy of life taught by their legendary coach, Roger Barta: “Respect each other, then learn to love each other and together we are champions.”

But as they embarked on a quest for a fifth consecutive title in the fall of 2008, they faced a potentially destabilizing transition: the greatest senior class in school history had graduated, and Barta was contemplating retirement after three decades on the sidelines.

In Smith Center—population: 1,931—this changing of the guard was seismic. Hours removed from the nearest city, the town revolves around “our boys” in a way that goes to the heart of what America’s heartland is today.

Joe Drape, a Kansas City native and an award-winning sportswriter for The New York Times, moved his family to Smith Center to discover what makes the team and the town an inspiration even to those who live hundreds of miles away. His stories of the coaches, players, and parents reveal a community fighting to hold on to a way of life that is rich in value, even as its economic fortunes decline.

Drape’s moving portrait of Coach Barta and the impressive young men of Smith Center is sure to take its place among the more memorable American sports stories of recent years. 


About Joe Drape

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Joe Drape is the author of the New York Times bestseller Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, The Race for the Triple Crown, and Black Maestro. He is an award-winning reporter for The New York Times, having previously worked for The Dallas Morning News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, he lives in New York City with his wife and son.
Published August 18, 2009 by Times Books. 288 pages
Genres: Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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In November 2007, the author’s front-page Times article about the Redmen—a team from Smith Center, Kan., that had clinched four straight state championships—garnered so much interest that he decided to uproot his family from New York and return to Smith Center the following year to see if the Red...

Jul 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on...


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In Our Boys, Joe Drape follows a small-town Kansas football team on their quest for a fifth-consecutive perfect season. An emotional celebration of Great Plains values, Our Boys does for football what Hoosiers did for hoops.

Oct 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on...

Deseret News

An East Coast sportswriter takes leave from his big city newspaper job, moves to America's heartland and endeavors to document a legendary high school football program.

Sep 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on...

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