“With his signature short, cliff-hanger chapters and snappy dialogue, Green has produced another smooth, well-crafted middle grade sports novel.”
Ryan Zinna is crazy about football but is concerned that his small stature and questionable skills will relegate him to second-string status on his middle school team (and second-class status in the school’s social hierarchy). Then suddenly, Ryan’s world is turned upside down when the father he never knew dies and leaves him partial ownership of the Dallas Cowboys. Becoming an instant celebrity is heady stuff, but doesn’t help Ryan in his struggle to secure a spot on the team, where his coaches and teammates continue to ignore him. Supported by his mom, his huge (and hugely talented) friend Jackson, and a smart and independent-minded girl named Izzy, Ryan soldiers on, enduring the contempt of the more established players. He also finds that owning a sports franchise is more complicated than he would have imagined, as team officials seem intent on manipulating him to achieve their goal of firing the coach. Ryan takes to the coach, however, who tutors him in the ways of the West Coast offense, which requires not a rifle-armed quarterback, but rather one who is smart enough to recognize and exploit weaknesses in the defense. When injuries give Ryan a chance to start a game as quarterback, he uses the coach’s offensive scheme to maximize his talents. More challenges lie ahead, however, as the executor of his father’s estate reveals that controlling ownership of the Cowboys will be determined by a competition between Ryan and his arrogant half brother, Dillon. Everything comes down to the performance of the boys in the game between their competing middle school teams.