For Hatley, Arizona, the mine is life but to Red O'Sullivan it seems it's going to close any day. In fact, their school is already set to shut its doors permanently in the coming months, with all of the students pretty guaranteed to be sent to their rival school in Cottonville. The only thing second to the mine in Hatley is football. The Hatley Muckers have gone to the state championship just twice - once with Red's own brother leading them - and now it's Red's turn. The odds are against them in every way - their record isn't great, they only have fourteen players, and they're outweighed by every other team in the state - but Red and his friends are determined. With the whole town seemingly relying on them, the Muckers are dead set and ready to fight for the championship.
If you're under the impression that this is just a football book, you're definitely mistaken. Set in 1950 and based on the real life story of the Jerome Muckers, Sandra Neil Wallace fleshes out this story of football and the state championship with real people and social issues.
Red and his family have never recovered from losing his brother, Bobby, in WWII and one of Red's own friends is off to join the war in Korea. As the Communist scare worsens, one of the teachers at Hatley High is ready to turn in every last townsperson if so much as a hint of red is revealed.
Hatley itself is a town divided with pieces of it sectioned off by race. And while their school is integrated - as the real Jerome school was - the opposing teams are shocked to find Mexicans playing on the same team as whites. For Red it's made that much worse because the object of his affection is Mexican and the town definitely frowns on mixed race couples. Not that that's enough to stop a teenager in love!
I loved Muckers in the same way that I loved Friday Night Lights (the tv show). The characters on the page were here with me as I read and I honestly couldn't resist the fact that it was based on a true story. The idea that Wallace discovered this cache of letters and clippings telling what was until now an almost forgotten story was one that appealed to me on so many levels. Muckers is a true win in my opinion!