Out in the Great Alone by Brian Phillips

During Boobie’s absence from the starting backfield, a junior named Chris Comer was called up to the varsity to play fullback. Like Boobie, Comer was black. Like Boobie, he was from the Southside. Like Boobie, he was living not with his natural parents but with a relative, his grandmother. In the previous school year, Comer had been ineligible for spring practice because of Texas’s no-pass, no-play rule, and he didn’t inspire much confidence among the Permian coaches.

But their reservations largely disappeared in the opening game against El Paso Austin. On Comer’s fourth carry of the season, he took the ball at the 50, waited behind the line for a split second until a tiny alleyway developed, turned the corner, accelerated past two defenders and dashed down the sideline for a touchdown. Comer gained 116 yards in all as the Panthers won 49-0. In the next game, against a Marshall team that was ranked third in the state, he gained 132 yards, though Permian lost 13-12. The game after that, he gained 128 and Permian won 35-14. The Permian staff extolled his virtues and worried less and less about how Boobie was recovering from his arthroscopic surgery.

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“In a week or two the fans will think Boobie already graduated,” said the Permian trainer, Tim (Trapper) O’Connell.

When the fourth game of the season took place, against Odessa High, Boobie was still in street clothes. The game was an epic grudge match between the town’s two high schools, and more than 15,000 fans filled Ratliff Stadium. But Boobie, who had looked forward to this game for a year, felt nothing. “Nah, I’m not that excited,” he said, and looked on impassively as the team moved effortlessly ahead without him, winning 35-7.

The following week Boobie came back to practice and the shame of a white practice jersey (only the starters wore black, and Comer was the starter at fullback now). He did not play in Permian’s next game, a 42-0 win over Midland High.

But the following week, when it became clear he was going to get a chance to play, Boobie’s mood brightened.

That Friday night, against the Abilene High Eagles, he watched from the sideline as Comer scored the first two touchdowns of the game, one on a three-yard run and the other on an 88-yard play in which Comer broke up the middle on a trap and outran everyone else to the goal line. Boobie stood behind the other players glassy-eyed, his hands clasped.

He got into the game in the second quarter and gained four yards on his first carry of the season. He got the ball again, spinning for a gain of two yards, and then he blocked from the tailback position as Comer scored his third touchdown to make the score 28-0 at the half. Comer had 스포츠중계 already gained 125 yards on nine carries. Boobie had gained six yards on two carries.

In the second half, with a third-and-two at the Abilene 23, Boobie took a handoff and suddenly you could see why Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, the bible of high school football in the state, had touted him before the season as one of the 10 best running backs in Texas. He cut up the middle and broke past several tacklers for an eight-yard gain and a first down. The old fire was there again.

But it was only a flash. Several plays later, Boobie left the game limping with a cramp. Permian eventually won 49-0.

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