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Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  429 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
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 o
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 18th 2009 by Times Books (first published October 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 736)
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Joe Drape
Aug 23, 2009 Joe Drape added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Obviously, I wrote Our Boys, which goes on sale today, so ignore the stars. They only reflect the fact that I wrote the book that I wanted to write. My family and I had a wondeful time in Smith Center, Kansas, where we reminded how love, patience and hard work are a rock solid foundation for all kinds of successes, especially when it comes to raising children. Please check out if you want more flavor of "Our Boys." ( )
Joe Drape
Aug 31, 2010 Joe Drape added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
We are out in paperback with new chapter, new cover and extensive reading group materials. I appreciate the support and feedback I've gotten here. With football season upon us, especially high school footbal, keep Our Boys in mind.
Jul 25, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
When I was a student at K-State, I met and became friends with many, many kids from rural farms and small towns scattered across the Kansas plains, like Smith Center. (In fact, I may have known someone from Smith Center--it's hard to recall all the little hometowns of my "old" friends.) That was one of the things that I loved about Kansas State. For a large university, it really had a small-town feel--and that's coming from a city girl! Many of the students were from small, rural towns where eve ...more
May 10, 2010 Melody rated it really liked it
If this book doesn't make you want to put your McMansion up for sale and load up your spoiled Johnson County children and head to Western Kansas for a slice of real life well I don't know what will. Yes, A Perfect Season is about high school football, some of the best in the state. But truly it is the story of a community of men and women, teachers, coaches, lunch ladies, everyone in fact loving, guiding and supporting the children, whether or not they play football for the legendary Redmen. It ...more
Aug 17, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it
As a former high school coach and current athletic administrator, I am fascinated by the impact, both positive and negative, that co-curricular athletics can have on small communities. I was hoping that Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, by Joe Drape, would meet the high expectations set by Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights. I believe F.N.L. is the consummate story on the powers (or poisons) that a community can enshrine on its athletes. Fortunately, with anothe ...more
Nov 07, 2009 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it liked it
I wanted to know the many characters in this book better...maybe that is why it was just an okay read for me. The author tried to cover too many people and thus not many of them were fully described enough for me.

Also, despite my own inner admonition not to do so, I kept comparing this book to "Friday Night Lights" and to another lesser-known book entitled "in These Girls, Hope is a Muscle". Both of those books were exciting, written with style and a lot of passion, and read like novels. Lots of
Aug 26, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, read-in-2009, sports
When the Smith County Redmen set a Kansas state playoff record for the most points scored in one quarter, the team caught the interest of the national media, including New York Times reporter Joe Drape.

But after the story calmed down a bit, Drape began to dig a little deeper into the history, tradition and story of the Smith Center Redmen and their long-time coach, Roger Barta, Drape found there was more to the story than just one of the most dominant high school teams in the history of the stat
Dec 20, 2009 Josh rated it really liked it
I was expecting a updated version of Friday Night Lights, which would not be entirely bad since I for some reason have a fascination with small town high school football. However, this book showed that, unlike the portrayal in Friday Night Lights, some coaches still care not only about the star player, but about all of the students on his team.

Smith Center, Kansas is everything that Odessa, Texas was not. Sure, they both love their high school football, but I feel that this is where the similar
Aug 24, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to win this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks Joe! I LOVED this book. Drape lovingly tells the story of a Kansas high school football team. He goes beyond the drills, touchdowns & victories and delves into the impact of the team on each player, coach & community member. As a teacher, it was refreshing to read a book showing the power coaches & teachers have to motivate and assist young people as they grow up. I'm so ready for football season to begin!
Nic Germano
Dec 09, 2009 Nic Germano rated it really liked it
Although I wouldn't normally pick up a book about high school football, Joe is a great friend and I wanted to support him so I picked it up on Tuesday. I'm only 35 pages into it but am instantly reminded of my own experience at a high school athlete, I also dated a high school football player. Ahhh the good times.....I definately reccommend it to everyone. Looking forward to finshing it. Thanks Joe!
Aug 21, 2009 Liz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This is a wonderful story. Very down to earth, and well put together. It was ideal that I have a brother with a love of football, it helped me understand the anatomy behind this novel, but this book would have been crystal clear if you had never even heard of football. This novel was more about what was underneath the football. The raw emotions about living in a small town.
Sep 04, 2009 Stephanie rated it really liked it
The one problem with my e-reader is that I can't just lend this book to each of my brothers. :-)

My favorite quote from Coach Barta is:

"Life is basically doing the same thing every day, fulfilling lives come with doing those things with passion, working constantly on the details that no one but you really sees."

Sep 02, 2009 Dbenn rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for all high school football coaches and parents. If you ever played high school football, or any high school sport, there is something in this book for you. Enjoyed it immensely.
Betsy Goodwin
Apr 03, 2012 Betsy Goodwin rated it it was amazing
As I read this book I found myself smiling, remembering how it felt to spend Friday nights with the entire town at the football field. A wonderful story about rural Kansas. Made me feel like I was back home.
Ralph stewart
Aug 02, 2009 Ralph stewart rated it really liked it
Joe paints a great picture of smalltown life and their commitment to the hs football team. You feel like you know everybody at the local coffee shop.
Aug 04, 2009 Kevin added it
I won this book through Goodreads' giveaway program. As an educator in Kansas, it will be interesting to see if I find this engaging - it's not my usual genre.
Jan 15, 2013 Drew rated it it was amazing
A perfect look into small town football! I found Coach Barta to be an inspiration. Every football player at all levels should read this.
Campbell Kolk
Dec 18, 2014 Campbell Kolk rated it really liked it
This book reminds me of my football session. There are a few characters that stand out above the rest one is Joe Drape who it writing this story in first person because its based on a true story. Also, There is the head coach whose name is Roger Barta. The lineman coach's name is Dennis (Big) Hutch. The running back and DB coach is Mike rogers. The Defensive and quarterback coach is Brock (little) Hutch. Tim Wilson is the offensive line and defensive end coach. The strength coach is Doug Boucher ...more
Aug 19, 2009 Joseph rated it it was ok
Here's what my experience was like in trying to read this book. Reading the first few pages and finding it slow... Deciding I'll give it 50 pages, but found it slow... Decided to give it another 50 pages, but found it slow.. OK, I'll give it another 70 pages, etc. For me, it never seemed to change gears or get to an exciting part.

The author, Mr. Drape, appears to concede that the coach involved in this true story does not have much to say; or rather he tends to say two different things to repor
Jul 12, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read about a small Kansas town that supports a record-setting high school football team. I enjoyed the description of a small town and how sports can unify a town. I would have liked to hear more about the difficulties of a small town, it sometimes felt like it was a romantic view of small-town life. It was a great narrative about community, sports and building young men for life beyond football.

My favorite part was after every game all of the men and boys would circle around the te
Kelley Anne
Feb 19, 2010 Kelley Anne rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, first-reads
I got this book as part of a first-reads giveaway. At first, I really didn't think that I'd enjoy it that much. I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction. Plus, although I enjoy watching a good football game, I don't know football inside and out like a lot of people do. I had never heard of the team before, and didn't think that I'd care about what really happened to them or to their football season.

I was wrong! Drape does an amazing job of making you care about this team, the players, and the town that
Feb 14, 2012 Lissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
I liked this book. I read it almost all in one night, and was interested in the story even though the outcome "a perfect season" waas right there on the front of the book.

Discussing it in book group REALLY brought more depth to the book - and I thought I had been reading critically to begin with -- my cohorts criticized the lack of women and girls in the story, particularly their role in the football program, which I had noticed also. People from small towns were MUCH more attuned to the feeling
Tom Gase
Nov 11, 2010 Tom Gase rated it liked it
A pretty good book by Joe Drape about a football team from Smith Center, Kansas that attempt to break the state record for most consecutive wins in a row for a high school football team at 67. The team begins the 2008 season with 54 straight wins, so in order to break the record the team, the Redmen, need to win the state championship. So yeah, this book is kind of predictable. Jeez, I wonder if they have a chance to get to that state championship game??? I won't tell you who wins though.

The bo
Sep 06, 2009 Seth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Football fans
Recommended to Seth by: Amazon Vine
Our Boys is both an epic quest of a high school football team and a story rich with meaningful lessons and thoughts, most of which delivered by Coach Roger Barta. In 2008 the Smith Center Redmen were looking for their fifth consecutive state championship and setting a state record for consecutive wins.

Taking place in Kansas, without reading so much as a synopsis I expected Our Boys to be about a football team steamrolling their competition behind their devoted small town fans. I know the Midwest
Dennis Maley
Jun 19, 2012 Dennis Maley rated it it was amazing
Here's a good book for a light, heartwarming read. Smith Center, Kansas sits out on the prairie on a not-so-busy highway and they win football games. One heck of a dedicated coach built a dynasty and at the time this book was written, the team was looking for another perfect season of 8-man football. A New York writer took up residence in Smith Center for a year or so to write the book and was given terrific access to the everything having to do with the program. It seems like everyone in town w ...more
Jul 21, 2012 Bruce rated it really liked it
A guy I coach with recommended this book to me. It's about a small high school football team. Located in Smith Center, Kansas, the book chronicles the Redmen as they chase after their 5th straight state championship and continue their winning streak, which had reached 60+ games.

As a high school football coach, it was a very interesting read. The town is located in the geographical center of the U.S. and is the prototypical small midwestern town. The people of the community are hard-working, with
Dec 06, 2009 Beth rated it liked it
Reporter Joe Draper counts himself a Midwesterner even though he hasn't lived there in 30 years. He returns from New York to his Kansas roots with his wife and 2 year son to chronicle the 2008 season of a highly acclaimed high school football team, with promised "complete access" from 31 year veteran coach, Roger Barta. The narrative dips into the geography, economy, and history of the team and Smith County with plenty of local color, and details training camp, student struggles to lead, the cha ...more
Mar 04, 2010 Sean rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Football fans, Fans of Friday Night Lights (TV) series, people who like inspiring stories of success
I thoroughly enjoyed "Our Boys." Even though I'm not the biggest football fan in the world, or a fan of high school football at all for that matter, the Redmen have a truly compelling story here - one that Drape communicates wonderfully.

What Drape does in "Our Boys" that makes the book so worthwhile is that he makes characters - at first just names on a page - matter to the reader. To be honest, when I first started reading, I thought to myself, "This book is really getting off to a slow start,"
Aug 18, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Joe Drape moved his family to Kansas for a year to write the story of the winning-est high school football team in the state's history. I really appreciated the way the author treats the subjects of his tale. He writes about the team and the entire community of Smith Center with respect and curiosity--he does not romanticize small town life, nor does he patronize the town's obsession with its "boys." It's just the right balance, which was refreshing to me.

While I enjoyed reading about the diffe
Rachel Smalter Hall
Don't let the cover fool you: this isn't a book about football.

When Joe Drape left his Kansas City home to work his way up as a sports journalist for The Dallas Morning News, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and then The New York Times, he probably didn't imagine he'd one day return to the Midwest and fall in love with a 1.2 square mile rural farming community just shy of 1700 people. At it's heart, Our Boys is a love story.

When Drape arrived in Smith Center in the fall of 2008, he counted hims
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Topeka & Shawnee ...: A community read for Kansas: Our Boys 4 13 May 02, 2012 11:38AM  
New York Times Bestseller 2 13 Mar 26, 2012 11:50AM  
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Joe Drape is a reporter for The New York Times and the author of the New York Times Best Seller Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen. He also is the author of The Race for the Triple Crown and Black Maestro. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, he previously worked for The Dallas Morning News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he doesn’t live in Kan ...more
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