“Now, because Jonnie’s faster than… well… pretty much everyone in the league, she’ll be able to get out ahead of the defense, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to stop them from getting to her.” Skyler looked up from his hand-held white board where he’d been drawing plays.
Jonnie knew the cross-country team had been trying to recruit her for years. She held several records in the 800, open and relay, and the two-mile, during track season, but she was firmly on-board with football in the fall and had been since she’d been too young to know the difference.
“They won’t get past us; I can promise you that,” Jayce said, winking at Jonnie.
“You need to be blocking for Logan when he’s the ball carrier,” Skyler chastised him. As the tight end, Jayce was frequently called on to block, especially during running plays. If he wasn’t paying attention, Logan could be pummeled by the defense.
“Well when Logan’s not rushing,” Jayce said through gritted teeth, “I’ll block for Jonnie.”
“You also need to be ready to receive if I can’t get the ball to her for whatever reason.” Skyler looked around to meet everyone’s eyes. “And even though you’re all in charge of blocking for our wide receivers, don’t forget about me.”
“I’ve got your blind side, captain.” Connor nodded definitively. “No one’s getting past me.” Connor reached out to offer Skyler a fist bump and he returned it with gratitude. Connor was the best offensive tackle Jonnie had ever seen. Skyler rarely got hurt on the field.
“Doug, you’re our second-best wide receiver, so you’ll often be the intended target to throw off the defense.” Skyler met Doug’s gaze.
“Gee, thanks.” Doug rolled his eyes.
“I’m just being real,” Skyler said. “You know darn well Jonnie’s faster and more consistent. But the defense is going to be focusing on her, so you need to be ready.”
“I’ll be ready,” Doug grumbled.
“I’m serious. You and I are gonna be stayin’ after practice if you don’t catch everything I send your way.”
“I won’t let you down, man.” Doug gulped and averted his eyes.
“The three of us will work together until we know what each other are thinking,” Jonnie added. Skyler was right. Without Doug fully committed, their season would not go well.
Doug reached over and he and Jonnie bumped fists. “I won’t let you down either, girlfriend.”
“Woah, woah, woah,” Connor interjected. “She is not your girlfriend.”
“She’s not anyone’s girlfriend,” Skyler warned. “We’ve talked about this, guys.”
There were grumbles around the huddle as the boys accepted the chastisement.
“Jealousy will get you benched,” Skyler said.
“We may not have that problem.” Coach Bryant approached the team with pursed lips. “I just got off the phone with the president of the league board. They insist Jonnie not play this season.”
(Note to readers of my blog: I’m aware that they can’t legally prevent her from playing so don’t send me angry comments. The very first line of the next chapter is, “They can’t do that.” If you do want to send me comments, you’re welcome to say things like, “I love this book so far! Keep up the good work!” -Julie)