MoboReader > Young Adult > The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports


The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 8743

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Once upon a time Thanksgiving Day was an orgie conducted in honor of that national bird, the turkey.

In these happier days, in every live community, the turkey must wait until the football game has been fought out. Then the adherents of one eleven eat crow.

Gridley's great game of the year was scheduled to begin at three o'clock.

However, a large part of the fun, at a really "big" game consists in being on hand an hour ahead of time and hearing and seeing all the fun that goes on.

Promptly at the tick of two o'clock the Gridley Band blew its first blast, to the tune of "Hail, Columbia!"

The band was stationed close to the ground, in the center of the stand reserved for the High School student body. Off the right of the band rose four tiers of bright-faced, wholesome-looking High School girls. To the left of the band sat the boys.

Across the field, on a much smaller stand, sat the hundred or so followers of the team from Cobber. The Cobbers had no band. Few feminine faces appeared on the Cobber stand. The Cobber colors, brown and gray, floated here and there on the breeze in the form of small banners.

Gridley's stand was brilliant with the crimson and gold banners of Gridley H.S. These bright-hued bits of bunting waved deliriously as the band's strains floated forth.

But as "Hail Columbia" belongs to all Americans, the Cobbers elected to flash their bunting, too.

Suddenly the music paused. Then came pressing contempt for the hostile eleven: "All coons look alike to me!"

Cobber's friends took the hint in an instant. To a man the visiting delegation arose, hurling out the Cobber yell in round, deep-chested notes.

Just outside the lines, behind a huge megaphone mounted on a tripod, stood Dick Prescott, cheer-master. At his side was Dave Darrin, whose duties were likely to prove mainly nominal.

Dick swung the megaphone from left to right, as he called out through it:

"Now, then--number seven!"

From the boy's side came the prompt response, in slow, measured cadence, every word of it distinct:

"C-O-B-B-E-R! Born in misfortune! Reared on trouble. Grew to be a disgrace--and died in tears!"

Cobber's friends had to "chew" over that. They had nothing in their repertory of "sass" that seemed to fill this bill.

To return an inapt yell would be worse than silence. So the visitors sat scowling at the field.

"Score one on Cobber's goat," grinned Dave Darrin.

Presently, after some whispering on the visitors' stand, this rather lame one came from the college crowd:

"C-O-B-B-E-R! C-O-B-W-E-B! Our trap for the foolish little fly!"

One of the few girls on the visitors' stand rose to wave her brown and gray banner. She slipped and fell through between the seats.

Quick as a flash Dave Darrin sprang to the megaphone, swinging it around at the enemy, and bawling this atrocious pun:

"Now you spider! But now you can't!"

That brought a laugh, even from the visitors. The hapless girl, with the help of some of her male friends, was hoisted up once more to a seat and safety.

"Look at the poor girl," laughed Dick to Darrin. "She's wearing our colors now--crimson face and a gold locket under it."

"If she wasn't a girl, I'd yell that over to 'em," laughed Dave.

The band was playing again, in its most rollicking rhythm, the old air from "Olivette," "Then bob up serenely!"

The laughter started on the Gridley side, but it spread all the way around to the Cobber seats.

As the minutes flew by it became apparent, from a survey of the filled seats, that at least two thousand, outside of the Cobber and the Gridley H.S. delegations, were present at the game. This meant a healthful addition to the athletics fund.

By and by Cobber recovered its nerve on the seats. Cobber yells floated forth on the air. Yet, for every sing-song taunt the visitors found that the home fans had an apt retort. This was where Dick Prescott's ready wit came in, for it was his task to call for all the cheers, yells, songs or taunts.

Two-thirty came. Dick called for the High School song. The band accompanied, while the entire student body sang.

At its completion Cobber answered, as might have been expected, with cat calls.

Within the next few minutes Dick ran the H.S. boosters through nearly the whole repertory of cheers and songs.

Then, just after quarter of th

ree, Dave made an important discovery.

"Here come the teams," he whispered.

Dick, without turning to look, swung the megaphone so that its wide mouth aimed straight at the band leader.

"You know what now, leader!"

In a twinkling the musicians rose. A cornetist flared forth with a bugle call. Down came the leader's baton. The bugle call shaded off into a single strain from the band. Then out crashed: "See, the conquering hero comes!"

With both teams marching onto the field the call was for courtesy. Gridley H.S. and Cobber rose in their seats. The other spectators, mostly, also stood up. Cobber Second came marching around in review before Gridley H.S. seats, and received a rattling volley of good, staunch old American cheers.

Gridley H.S. eleven took the other side of the field. With Sam Edgeworth at their head they went past the visitors' seats, and received the most thundering welcome that Cobber knew how to give.

Passing the two grand stands the captains wheeled their men marching them out into the field. Two footballs bounded from the side lines, and both teams began preliminary practice plays.

After that the band played a couple of lively airs. The people on the grand stands did not pay much heed to the practice work. They knew that the players were merely warming up.

Coach Morton came down along the side lines, halting close to the cheer-master and his assistant. After the first greeting Mr. Morton turned his eyes anxiously toward the field.

The day was ideal--not too cold. Though the sun was out, there was some cloudiness, yet without a sign of rain or snow. The field was in excellent shape for a fast game.

"Why, Dick, you're trembling!" grunted Dave Darrin, in amazement.

"I know it," Prescott confessed, half guiltily.

"What's the matter?"

"Oh, nothing; only I'm so excited I can't quite keep still."

"Afraid for our side?"

"We're going to win!" asserted Dick, stubbornly.

"Yet you're shaking!"

"It is buck fever, I guess. O Dave, I do love this grand old game!"

Coach Morton half turned, sending a comprehending smile at the earnest young freshman.

"I wonder if you'd feel like that," ventured Dave, "if you were one of our fellows out there on the gridiron."

"Not for a second," spoke up Prescott, promptly. "I know what

I would be doing though."


"I'd he Singing inside--singing songs of triumph over the game we were going to win--the game we just had to win!"

"You'd be pretty confident," smiled Darrin.

"Yes, I would," Dick asserted. "I believe it's the only spirit worth having--the firm conviction that you're going to win, and that nothing can stop you."

Coach Morton turned long enough to say:

"Prescott, I wish you were old enough and big enough to be out there on our team now. When your time comes I certainly hope you'll make the eleven. Your spirit is what every high school needs."

Blushing a bit, Dick drew the score card out of his pocket. He knew the Gridley side of it by heart, already, but he wanted to read it over again. This was the line-up that he saw:

Gridley H.S. Positions Cobber Second

Evans …..left end……….Paisley

Butler…..left tackle…….Jordrey

Beck…….left guard……..Smith

Badger… ………..Halsey

Thompson…right guard…….Jennison

Edgeworth..right tackle……Potter

Stearns….right end………Adams


Jasper…..right half-back…Haddleston

Trent …..left half-back….Dill


"Why isn't Edgeworth in center?" asked Dave, glancing down over

Dick's shoulder.

"Played down a bit too fine to hold center in a big game like this," Dick answered. "Edgeworth is a corking center, and I wouldn't be afraid to see him there today. But Ben Badger is every bit as good."

Coach Morton drew in his breath sharply. Referee Henderson had just signaled to Badger, acting captain for the home team, and Halsey, captain of the Cobbers, to come in for the toss. The players halted in their work to await the result of that toss.

"You call, Halsey," nodded Ben Badger.

"Up!" warned the referee, and flipped the coin.

"Tails!" sang Captain Halsey.

"Heads it is," announced Referee Henderson.

Ben Badger grinned.

"It's all starting our way," clicked Dick Prescott, in an undertone.

He seemed lost in a transport of ecstasy.

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