cover image When Saturday Mattered Most: The Last Golden Season of Army Football

When Saturday Mattered Most: The Last Golden Season of Army Football

Mark Beech. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-320-37400-5

In a grand homage to the hard-nosed tradition of Army football, Beech, an editor at Sports Illustrated, recounts a brilliant gridiron season in 1958 when the scandal-ridden Black Knights of Army proved as talented and resilient as any college varsity squad ever. “Red” Blaik, once a young promising coach at Dartmouth in the 1930s and a star end on the old Army football team, assumed control of the Knights football program in the 1950s and resurrected it from a 1951 costly cheating scandal, which ended the careers of 37 members of the varsity, including Blaik’s younger son, Bob, destined to be the starting quarterback. Beech walks the reader with great detail and engaging narrative through Blaik’s bold strategy of rebuilding the Knights with a new far-flanker scheme built on a pounding running game. Assisted by such capable coaching assistants as Sid Gillman and Vince Lombardi, the coach discovers “a more open game” to spare his teams from physical injury, relying on the humble Bill Carpenter as the gifted receiver and the bruising Pete Dawkins as the Heisman Trophy–winning running back to pull off an undefeated 1958 football season. In this memorable sports chronicle of a fabled Army football team at the birth of the space age and the NFL, Beech highlights a remarkable coach and his determined squad in a golden season of redemption and triumph. Agents: Adam Korn and Brian DeFiore. (Sept.)