Read Dog That Called the Signals Online

Authors: Matt Christopher,William Ogden

Dog That Called the Signals (2 page)

Mike was amused by the friendship that had developed between his dog and the coach. “I just hope that they don’t start reading
each other’s mind like we do,” he told himself. “I like Harry being special to me.”

“Relax, pal,” Harry’s thoughts came through to him. “I have tried to talk with him. It didn’t work. Satisfied?”

Mike grinned. “Satisfied!”

Harry was just a dog, but that brain of his was working every minute.

Saturday came, and Mike walked to the game with Harry at his side. In spite of the coach’s telling him not to worry, Mike
still felt butterflies in his stomach. Why did Bobby Doan have to go on a vacation this weekend, anyway?

They reached the football field, and Mike compared his Jets’ worn, tattered uniform with the Browns’ spanking new ones. “What
a mess,” he thought.

“In more ways than one,” Harry said.

Just before the game started Harry ran over to Coach Hawkins’s side and trotted back and forth with him behind the sideline.
Mike laughed at the sight, and so did a lot of other people.

The Jets won the toss, and Mike chose to receive. The Browns kicked off. Butch caught the ball and ran it back to the Jets’
twenty-six-yard line. But, in the huddle, Mike panicked and wasn’t sure what play to call.

“Quit stalling or we’ll get penalized,” Butch said.

“Eighteen pass,” Mike said quickly.

The guys stared at him. “What? A pass play the first thing?” Larry Curtis said.

Mike looked nervously at him.

The team lined up, and Mike called signals. Sweat poured off his face. Larry was right. Calling for a pass on the first play
was stupid.

He got the ball from center, and half a dozen Browns broke through the line and swarmed on him before he could throw it. An
eight-yard loss!

Mike called for an end-around run on the next play and lost two more yards. Third and twenty to go. What a lousy start!

More sweat poured down his face.
What play should he call now? He thought again of the eighteen pass play, and called it.

This time he fumbled the ball, but fell on it in time.

Frank Tooney, the fullback, punted it to get it as far away from the Jets’ end zone as possible. But in two plays the Browns
ran it back down to the Jets’ eight-yard line. Then they tried a pass.

Mike, playing safety, intercepted it in the end zone! He dodged several Browns players, stiff-armed two, tripped over another’s
legs, got his balance, then ran all the rest of the way for a touchdown!

“What great open field running!” Butch cried, slapping him on the back.

Mike, breathing hard, couldn’t believe it. He had scored a touchdown!

“Nice run, pal,” said Harry.

“Thanks, Harry!” said Mike.

After the kickoff the Jets got lucky again; the Browns fumbled the ball, and Frank pounced on it.

From the huddle Mike looked behind him, and shook. They were ten yards from the Browns’ goal line!

He turned and looked at the ten faces waiting for him to call a play. But what play should he call? What play could get them
nearer to that goal line?

“Let me run it,” Frank piped up.

“Throw me a pass,” said Larry.

“Fake a pass, then hand it off to me,” Butch suggested.

Suddenly all the other players tried to tell Mike what play to call. He was so confused he didn’t know what to do.

A whistle shrilled. “Delay of game!”
shouted the ref. “Five yards penalty!”

Now the ball was
fifteen
yards from the Browns’ goal line!

Suddenly a substitute came running in from the Jets’ bench. “The coach says try a short pass to Larry,” he said to Mike, then
told one of the other players to leave.

Mike tried the pass. And it worked. They scored!

Again and again in the first quarter the coach sent in plays from the bench. Sometimes they didn’t work, but most of the time
they did.

Mike felt relieved. As long as the coach kept sending in the plays, the Jets had a good chance of winning the game. And earning
their new uniforms, too.

Then, in the middle of the second quarter, something happened. Coach Hawkins, who had been pacing back and forth at the sideline,
let out a yell and suddenly fell down.

Both teams stopped moving and stared at him lying on the grass.

“He’s hurt!” Mike cried, and sprinted toward the sideline. The others took off after him.

“What happened, Coach?” Mike asked when he reached him.

“Sprained my ankle in that doggone hole!” Coach Hawkins said, pointing at a small hole in the ground behind him.

“Oh, no!” Mike wailed. Harry, crouched next to the coach, looked up.

“Don’t look at me just because he said ‘doggone,’” said Harry. “It wasn’t my fault.”

“Who said it was?” Mike replied. He looked back at the coach. “What do you want us to do, Coach?”

“Win this ball game,” answered the coach. “But you’ll have to do it without me. I’m going home to take care of this ankle.
This time you’ve
got
to run the team.”

Mike’s face dropped.

“Mind if I take your pooch with me?” the coach went on. “I can watch the game through my field glasses and enjoy
his company at the same time. How about it?”

Mike and Harry exchanged glances. “Is it okay with you?” Mike asked.

“Sure, if it’s okay with you,” said Harry. “After all, I am your dog.”

Mike agreed to let Harry go with the coach. A friend of Coach Hawkins’s then helped him off the field, and Harry left with
them.

Mike shook his head sadly as he turned his attention back to his teammates. “Guys, we can kiss those uniforms good-bye,” he
said, and headed back onto the field. “Come on. Let’s finish the game.”

Within five minutes the Browns scored two touchdowns on a run through right tackle, and made both kicks for the extra point
good. Jets 14, Browns 14.

In the third quarter the Browns scored two more times, but they missed the kick for the extra point once. Jets 14, Browns
27.

As his team started to lose, Mike got more and more mixed up about which play to call. He had never wished so
badly for a game to end. Of all the times for the coach to sprain an ankle.

Suddenly a voice cut into his unhappy thoughts. “Mike! Hey, Mike! Are you listening?”

“Don’t bother me, Harry,” he said. “It’s our ball and I’ve got to figure out something —”

“I know!” Harry’s excited thoughts came through to him as clear as a bell. “The coach got his ankle taped and now he’s watching the game from his porch through his field glasses. And he’s yelling ‘razzle-dazzle!’”

“Razzle-dazzle? Hey, that’s great! The razzle-dazzle, guys!” Mike ordered. “Let’s go!”

The play had the Browns running back and forth on the field like crazy, wondering which Jet had the ball.

Butch finished the run by scoring a touchdown. Then Frank kicked the extra point. Browns 27, Jets 21.

“It worked! It worked!” Mike shouted.

The game went into the fourth quarter. Every time the Jets had the ball Mike called a signal that Harry gave to him from the
coach. And almost every time
the team tried it, it worked for at least a few yards.

Then, with only a minute left to play, Mike tried the razzle-dazzle again. This time Tom got the ball and sprinted down the
field for another touchdown! And Frank kicked the ball between the uprights for the extra point!

Seconds later the game was over. Jets 28, Browns 27.

“Number Seven Firemen — bring on those new uniforms!” the guys cried happily.

Butch slapped Mike enthusiastically on the back. “Thanks to Mike, our great quarterback!” he said.

Mike smiled, and wished he could tell the guys who was really responsible for
their win. But he had promised Harry he would never reveal their secret to anyone.

As the Jets headed for the locker room Mike saw his dog come bounding across the field toward him.

“Harry!” he cried as Harry leaped up into his arms. “You’ve got more brains than a barrel of monkeys!”

“Doggone right!” Harry replied, and licked Mike’s cheeks.

Matt Christopher

THE DOG THAT CALLED THE SIGNALS

Mike suddenly becomes starting quarterback for his team, and he’s got a problem. Everything’s fine as long as the coach gives
him the plays from the bench, but what happens the day the coach sprains an ankle and has to leave the game? Will Mike ruin
things for the whole team?

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