Long Arm Quarterback

A New Football Team Sparks an Old Rivalry


By Matt Christopher

Formats and Prices




$8.99 CAD



  1. ebook $6.99 $8.99 CAD
  2. Trade Paperback $10.99 $14.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 19, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Cap Wadell loves football; unfortunately, living in a rural town of 1,223 people makes putting together a team a little difficult. His grandfather suggests that Cap organize a local six-man team and play with other surrounding small towns. Recruiting players, finding uniforms, locating a field to play on, and securing a rule book are all easily done, but one major problem remains — who is going to coach this team? Cap thinks his grandfather is perfect for the job, but trouble strikes when another grandfather thinks Cap’s grandfather is playing favorites by putting Cap at quarterback. An old-time rivalry is about to heat up again as the grandfathers battle it out off the field and Cap and the other grandson battle it out on field. As the generations clash, nobody is exactly sure who will succeed and play the coveted quarterback position. Who in the end will prevail?



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

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com


First eBook Edition: December 2009

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

Matt Christopher® is a registered trademark of Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-316-09398-9


The football flew in a smooth arc with no wobble at all. Candy Wadell sprinted hard, looking over her shoulder for the ball.

"Look at that ball fly!" Grandpa Tully Wadell sat on his favorite porch chair, its back tilted against the wall. Now he let the chair drop with a thud, leaned forward, and shouted, "Go get it, girl! Reach for it!"

Candy stretched out and the ball settled on her fingertips. She pulled it in and raced for an imaginary goal line, brown hair flying, fist clenched high. She trotted back, grinning, toward the house. Her brother Casper, who usually answered to Cap, didn't smile back.

Grandpa Tully applauded. "Heck of a catch, Candy. Cap, I never saw an arm like yours on a boy your age. You can air it out."

Candy flipped the ball to her brother. She was fourteen, two years older than Cap. "Let's try a post pattern," she said. "I give the defender an inside move and go deep."

Cap rolled his eyes and groaned.

Candy ran in front of him, cutting him off. "Cap, c'mon, okay? I feel pumped!"

Cap shook his head. "Well, I don't. I feel flat. Let's call it a day."

Candy put a hand on her brother's arm. "Come on, just one more. It's late fourth quarter, we're down by four, and it's third and ten. It's now or never. Cap?"

Cap scowled but said nothing. Candy took his silence for agreement.

"All right!" She clapped her hands. "Set!" She bounced on her toes. Scowling, Cap held the football at his side.

"Hut one! Hut two!" Candy started fast, stopped short, head-faked right, and took off left.

Cap fired the ball as hard as he could. It sailed through the sky, yards out of Candy's reach. Not waiting to see where the ball went, he wheeled around and headed for the porch.

The girl glared at Cap. "Ha ha. What's eating you, anyway?" She trotted off to retrieve the ball.

Cap clomped up the porch steps, not saying a word. Grandpa frowned.

"Something bothering you, boy?"

Cap slumped down next to Tully.

"Yeah, I feel… it's not fair, that's all."

"What?" Grandpa studied Cap's face. "Must be bad, for you to treat your sister bad."

Cap looked at him and then down again. "That was dumb, I know. Well, you said it yourself. I have a great arm, I could be a great quarterback, but all I ever get to do is play pickup games or catch with Candy. I'll never be on a real team in a real game, and it isn't fair."

He heard Candy's footsteps on the porch steps and looked up. She was mad.

"Uh, sorry," he said. "That was a dopey thing to do. Guess I'm in a bad mood."

Candy fired the football at him, and Cap barely grabbed at it before it hit him in the chest. "That makes two of us. What's your problem?"

Grandpa said, "Cap wishes he could play on a real football team." He stopped and scratched his head, thinking. "Come to think of it, why couldn't you?"

"Aw, you know, Grandpa." Cap stood and began pacing back and forth on the porch. "Cowpen is so small—what is it, two hundred and fifty people?"

"Two hundred and thirty-four," Candy said. "No, wait, Ms. Klinger had her baby last week. Two hundred and thirty-five."

"See?" Cap shook his head. "In our whole school, we have sixteen middle-grade boys. It's not enough for a team."

Tully nodded. "Not for an eleven-man team, but you could have a six-man team."

Cap laughed. "Six-man football? Six on a team? That's not real football."

"Oh, no?" Tully snatched the ball. "Let me tell you, when I was your age, all our schools played six-man football, in a league. And I was our quarterback, and team captain."

Cap and Candy exchanged glances. "That's great, Grandpa," Cap said, "but still, it wasn't… well… real football."

Tully Wadell's eyes flashed. "Oh, you mean like with all those big hulks lumbering around like they have today? Ha! Our game was faster! We played offense and defense. Real football. Huh!"

"Why did they stop?" asked Candy.

Tully sighed. "Cowpen got too small to even get six on a side. But there're six-man leagues all over Texas, and other states, wherever the population is thin."

Cap found that he was getting interested about the possibility. Could it happen here?

"Grandpa, how would we start it up? You really think there's a chance we could?"

Tully grinned at his grandson. "Well, we could surely give it a try! I could—"

"Hey, Cap! What's happening?"

Cap's best friends, Hoot Coleman and Ben Worthy, rode their bikes into the Wadells' yard. Hoot was a wiry redhead, an inch shorter than the lanky Cap, and Ben was stocky with blond hair cut short. Both wore jerseys of their favorite football teams over faded jeans.

"Yo, Cap, how about a little ball?" asked Ben. "Hi, Candy, how you doing?"

Cap waved them over. "Guys, listen to this. How'd you like to start a school football team? Maybe even a league?"

Ben snickered. "I'd like to go to the moon on a rocket but I won't do that either."

Hoot said, "Shoot, Cap, our school's too small. You'd need too many guys, and—"

"No," Cap said, "Grandpa's telling us about this six-man football the schools here used to play. Gramps was a quarterback."

"That's right," Tully agreed. "My last year, the Panthers were undefeated. Five and oh."

"Really, Mr. Wadell?" Hoot sat on the porch. "How did this game work?"

"We used an eighty-yard field," Grandpa said. "Three backs, three linemen, and everybody was an eligible receiver."

"Linemen could carry the ball?" asked Ben, who was built to be a lineman. "Cool!"

Grandpa nodded. "You needed fifteen yards for first down. A field goal was four points. After a touchdown, you got two for kicking a try and one for running or passing it in."

Ben looked puzzled. "How come you got two for a kick?"

Cap took a guess. "I bet there weren't many place-kickers, so kicking field goals and extra points deserved something extra."

Grandpa Tully patted Cap on the back. "Right. And I reckon we could put a league together in time for school this fall. If we can figure out how to get some uniforms …"

"Maybe local high schools can give us old ones," Ben said. "Pads and helmets, too."

"Tomorrow," said Tully, "I'll call Principal Vinson."

"Who's going to coach?" asked Candy.

Grandpa chuckled. "Me! The ex–star quarterback of the Cowpen Panthers!"

Cap beamed. "Great! I'll be quarterback, Hoot'll run, Ben can be a lineman, and—"

Tully held up his hands. "Whoa, slow down! Let's go one step at a time, all right?"

Cap saw that his friends were excited too. "You think this can work?" he asked Tully.

The man laughed. "I know it! You just wait… this fall, the Cowpen Panthers are back!"


A whistle sang out and eight Cowpen Panthers turned to their coach. Tully wore faded old sweats, and the boys had on gray practice jerseys and carried helmets.

Tully called, "Fellas, gather round."

Cap was amazed that it had happened so fast. Grandpa had called Principal Vinson, who thought six-man football was a great idea. He had spoken to other principals, and five schools—Sandville, Moosetown, Ausburg, Elmsford, and Bee Town—had organized teams of their own.

Tully and Mr. Vinson had contacted schools all over Texas and even some in Oklahoma. The schools had sent old uniforms and gear they no longer needed. The local schools had bought footballs and laid out fields that were eighty yards long and forty across.


On Sale
Dec 19, 2009
Page Count
144 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