Football Double Threat


By Matt Christopher

Text by Stephanie Peters

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Rocky Fletcher is being stretched to his limit. Until recently, he’d only played wide receiver for the Pythons. Now his coaches want him to learn the safety position, too-a position that opened up when Bobby, Rocky’s best friend, broke his leg. Even though he believes he is to blame for Bobby’s injury, Rocky eagerly takes on the challenge of becoming a two-way player. After all, the only other player available is Jared, a sullen boy who switched from soccer to football this season. Yet as time goes on, it’s Jared who excels at the position because, thanks to Bobby, Rocky keeps missing practices! What’s going on between Rocky and Bobby-and why is Jared on the team when he clearly dislikes football so much? Football Double Threat combines the action and excitement of football with relatable issues about envy, loyalty, and friendship.


Copyright © 2008 by Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group USA

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First eBook Edition: September 2008

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-03991-8


Rocky Fletcher entered the middle-school locker room with his duffel bag slung over his shoulder. The twelve-year-old wide receiver greeted a few of his teammates and then headed to an empty row to get into his uniform.

He unzipped the main compartment of his bag and took out his protective gear. First came the shining gold helmet with its image of a hissing, coiled snake on each side — the logo of the Park City Pythons, Rocky's team. Rocky loved that logo. The snake made him think about squeezing the ball tight after making a catch and slithering past the defense into the end zone.

He polished the helmet with his sleeve before putting it on the bench. He reached back into the bag and pulled out his other gear. There were pads to protect his stomach and hips, shoulders and arms, thighs, knees, and shins. His cleats and mouth guard came out next, followed by his team jersey — #83 — and pants. Finally, he pulled out a handheld music player with attached earbuds.

Putting the player aside, Rocky quickly suited up in his pads, pants, jersey, and cleats. A glance at the clock told him there were five minutes to spare — plenty of time to listen to his favorite new song.

He grabbed his music player, put the buds in his ears, and sat on the bench. He thumbed his way around the dial to a playlist he'd named Pre-Game Pump. Then he scrolled down to the song he wanted to hear, tapped a button to start the music, and closed his eyes.

A staccato drumbeat filled his ears. It was slow at first but then picked up speed. Rocky tapped his toes along with the rhythm. When a bass guitar joined the drums, his heart seemed to pulse in time with the thrumming tones. Suddenly, an electric guitar wailed out a single, ear-splitting chord. Even though he'd known it was coming, that note sent a rush of adrenaline through Rocky's veins. Heart racing, he drummed his fingers against his thigh pads.

Wait for it, wait for it, he thought. And . . . and . . . NOW!

As that last word flashed across his brain, the lead singer belted out the first phrases of the song — and Rocky just couldn't sit any longer. He leaped to his feet, punched the air, and bobbed his head to the beat. He would have sung along, but experience had taught him that people who sang to music only they could hear looked foolish. So he settled for mouthing the words and performing a mean air guitar solo.

Suddenly, an arm circled his neck and pulled him into a choke hold. Startled, Rocky broke free and spun around. The arm belonged to his best friend and teammate, Bobby Richards. Standing behind Bobby were five other Pythons. All were clapping and laughing.

Beet red with embarrassment, Rocky hit pause and took out the earbuds.

"Encore! Encore!" Bobby cried then.

"Yeah, yeah, very funny," Rocky muttered. "Don't you guys have something better to do — like get ready for the game?"

Still laughing, everyone except Bobby left to put on the rest of their gear.

"Yo, Rock Star," Bobby said, a wide grin splitting his face. "What were you listening to?"

"That new song from the Phantasms," Rocky replied. "It totally psyches me up, especially the ending. In fact, I want to hear that part before the game." He started to put the buds back in his ears.

Bobby stopped him. "I haven't heard that song yet! Lemme listen, okay?" He made a grab for the player.

Rocky blocked him with his body. "Not a chance!"

"Why not?"

"I bought this player with money I earned mowing lawns this summer. I've only had it a week and I'm not about to loan it out, okay?" Rocky knew he sounded selfish, but he didn't care. He'd worked hard for his player; what if he let Bobby use it and Bobby broke it?

"Fine." Bobby turned away with a grumpy look. But as Rocky started to put the buds in his ears, Bobby whirled back and lunged for the player.

"Bobby! Cut it out! Come on, get back!"

As the two boys tussled for control, Jeff Abbot, the Pythons quarterback, walked by.

"Save it for the game, will you?" he said. "Coach Royson and Coach Ward want us on the field right now!"

Rocky and Bobby stopped horsing around immediately. While Rocky stowed the player in his locker, Bobby grabbed their helmets. He tossed Rocky his and then together they ran out of the locker room and toward the gridiron.

"Seriously, Rocky," Bobby said as they jogged onto the field, "I'm dying to hear that song."

"Seriously, Bobby," Rocky replied, "get your own player and you can!"


The two boys lined up on the field along with their teammates for the pre-game warm-ups.

"Ready, Pythons?" Coach Royson called. "Jumping jacks! Begin!"

The players moved in unison, swinging their arms over their heads and down to their sides, opening and closing their legs, and giving out a loud grunt each time they'd finished a set of ten jacks. Five sets later, they ran in place, lifting their knees as high as possible. Then they did a quick-feet/push-up combo — five seconds of rapid footfalls followed by a drop to the ground for two push-ups. After a series of leg stretches, they followed Mr. Ward, the assistant coach and head of the defensive squad, in a lap around the field.

"Let's hear it!" Coach Ward called. "Py-thons! Py-thons!"

The team picked up the chant. When they passed the bleachers, Pythons fans joined in. Rocky grinned. That chant did just as much to get his blood pumping as the run and his favorite song had done.

Rocky was breathing hard when he finished the lap. Sweat pricked his hairline. It was a warm afternoon by September standards, but he didn't mind. The heat made his muscles feel loose, and, as for the sweat, heck, what was the point of playing sports if you didn't need to shower after a game?

He paced up and down the sideline. As he did, he passed the Pythons' newest member, a wiry boy named Jared. Unlike the other players, who were gathered in small groups and talking in loud, excited voices, Jared was sitting alone and silent on the bench.

Rocky didn't know much about Jared other than that he'd played soccer for a few years before switching to football this season. Now he was the Pythons kicker, a position he seemed well suited for.

But not really interested in, Rocky couldn't help thinking as he eyed the other boy's slack posture and stony expression. Wonder why he even joined the team?

Fweet! A sharp blast from the official's whistle sent all thoughts other than football from Rocky's mind. It was game time at last!

The Pythons were playing the Shooting Stars, a tough but not impossible-to-beat team. The Pythons won the coin toss and elected to receive first.


On Sale
Sep 1, 2008
Page Count
128 pages

Matt Christopher

About the Author

Matt Christopher is the best-selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

Learn more about this author