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Cobra Strike

176 pages
After discovering tainted water in the creek near his grandmother's cabin in the Kentucky hills, senior Roy Linden slowly uncovers a connection between his high school team's new star quarterback, his own football future, and the source of the pollution. Roy Linden should be thrilled. His high school football team, the Johnstown Striking Cobras, just got a new quarterback, and that means a chance at a winning season and a college scholarship for Linden, the team's senior receiver. But then he stumbles onto a deadly secret in the small coal-mining town. Revealing this toxic threat may cost him his best friend and his football career. But remaining silent could cost him much more.
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Cobra Str ike
S i g m u n d B r o u w e r
Orca Book Publishers
Copyright © 2007 Sigmund Brouwer
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Brouwer, Sigmund, 1959-Cobra strike / written by Sigmund Brouwer. (Orca sports) First published: Red Deer, Alta. : Coolreading.com, 1998. ISBN 978-1-55143-725-5 I. Title. II. Series.
PS8553.R68467C6 2007 jC813’.54 C2006-907044-X
Summary: After discovering tainted water in the creek near his grandmother’s cabin in the Kentucky hills, Roy Linden slowly uncovers a connection between his high school team’s new star quarterback, his own football future and the source of the pollution.
First published in the United States, 2007 Library of Congress Control Number:2006940593
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design: Doug McCaffry Cover photography: Getty Images Author photo: Bill Bilsley
OrcaBookPublishers POBox5626,Stn.B Victoria,BCCanadaV8R6S4
OrcaBookPublishers POBox468 Custer,WAUSA98240-0468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada. Printed on 100% PCW recycled paper.
 010 09 08 07 • 4 3 2 1
More Orca Sports novels by Sigmund Brouwer:
All-Star Pride Blazer Drive Rebel Glory Tiger Threat Titan Clash
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c h a p t e r o n e
When I left the science lab after school on Friday, I had two problems. The first was what I had discovered in the lab. The second was that spending extra time there had made me fifteen minutes late for football practice. Because of that, I didn’t reach the locker room until most of my teammates on the Johnstown Striking Cobras had already changed and gone into the gym. And because
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I was the last one out of the locker room, I was the only one to see Glenn Pitt, our assistant coach, grab the wrong can of Pepsi. He had mistakenly reached for the one filled with dark brown chewing tobacco spit. But I should probably back up a bit to tell the whole story. When I walked out of the locker room, the high school gym was filled with guys in sweats sprinting back and forth. Between me and those guys, our two football coaches stood in front of a table covered with papers of team plays. The men stood with their backs toward me. Each coach carried a clipboard. Each had a stopwatch. Each was timing the short sprints of the guys in sweats and making notes on his clipboard. Normally we practiced outside on the football field. But today rain pounded so hard the gym’s skylights rumbled like gravel in a clothes dryer. Not even our coaches—who thought cold and pain and torture were the keys to turning us into men—had the heart to make us churn through the cold mud in this rain.
C o b r a St r i ke
Or maybe they just wanted a closer look at all the players—this was the last afternoon of tryouts. Old Coach Donaldson wore glasses so thick they made his eyes look like little brown peas floating somewhere deep in an aquarium. If rain streaked those glasses, he became as blind as he was deaf. But our assistant coach, Glenn Pitt, had perfect eyesight and hearing. He was young, just out of college. He had won bodybuilding competitions, and with his short dark hair and bullet-shaped skull, he could have been a poster boy for the Marines. Coach Pitt was the complete opposite of Coach Donaldson, who some people joked had started coaching high school football teams before college teams were even invented. Coach Donaldson was certainly no marine. He looked like a giant pear, with a gray bowling-ball-shaped head plunked on top and stilt-like legs sticking out below. I watched them for a few seconds, wishing I could somehow sneak past Coach Pitt’s eagle eyes. Once he noticed I was late, he would yell at me. He liked to yell, especially
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at me, because I had a hard time defending myself. Worse, I would have to tell him why I was late on the last day of tryouts. I knew he’d yell even louder when he learned I’d put science ahead of football. But that part I could handle. The part I couldn’t handle was saying the words “Pitt” and “science,” which would give Coach Pitt even more opportunity to yell at me. So I waited, hoping some miracle would happen to let me get past him unnoticed. The squeaks of running shoes on the gym floor mixed with grunts and shouts. If only I were already out there with the other guys… Cl ipboa rd i n h is lef t ha nd, Coach Donaldson used his right hand to bring a Pepsi can to his mouth. He squirted a stream of tobacco juice into the can. He almost always had a golf-ball-sized wad of chewing tobacco bulging in his cheek. Outdoors, he just fired tobacco juice onto the grass, and if a player was unlucky enough to slide into it during a tackle, it stuck and smeared across his jersey
C o b r a St r i ke
like grasshopper guts. Here, indoors, Coach Donaldson had no choice but to spit into a Pepsi can, which was only slightly less gross; it was hard to aim into the can, and much of the juice dribbled down his chin. A football came wobbling across the floor toward Coach Donaldson’s feet. Jim Schenley, our quarterback, had been warming up at the back of the gym and—no surprise—he had fired the ball way over the head of his receiver. Coach Donaldson set his Pepsi can on the table behind him and grabbed the football. It probably broke his heart that the best quarterback he could find for this team had an arm with the accuracy of a broken watch. Coach Pitt, who had focused his attention on the sprinters directly in front of him, did not notice Coach Donaldson pick up the ball. Or put down his Pepsi can on the table behind him. Trouble was, Coach Pitt had left his own can of Pepsi sitting on the table. As Coach Donaldson wandered away with the football to talk to Schenley, Coach