The Zucchini Warriors

From the book:

Mr. Sturgeon walked across the campus in the direction of the dormitories. He disliked what he was about to do, but do it he must. There was a rumor circulating that Elmer Drimsdale was harboring some sort of animal, and the rumor had reached the ears of Miss Hildegarde, the school nurse. That tattling Blankenship boy had no doubt started it all. And now the Headmaster was forced to finish it. Personally he had nothing against Elmer keeping animals for his scientific studies. But rules were rules, and Miss Hildegarde had been extremely adamant on the phone. Still, interfering with Drimsdale's experiments always seemed like a crime against science.
He entered Dormitory 2, approached the door of room 201, and knocked.
"It's not locked," came a voice that was definitely not Drimsdale's. "Step right up. Bring 'em all in. They're eating them faster than we can stuff them in the cage."
Mr. Sturgeon entered to see Bruno, Boots, and Elmer on their hands and knees around a large cage, feeding zucchini sticks to four furry gray-brown creatures.
Not looking away from the cage, Bruno stretched out his hand towards the newcomer. "Come on. Hand over your plate. We haven't got all night, you know."
"Good evening, Walton --;O' Neal --;Drimsdale.
All three scrambled to their feet.
"S-S-Sir," stammered Bruno. "What a surprise!"
"I see you've restaffed the Zucchini Disposal Squad," said the Headmaster with some amusement. "What on earth are they?"
"They're Manchurian bush hamsters, sir," said Elmer, "an endangered species. I'm attempting to make them reproduce."
The door burst open, and Larry and Wilbur entered. "Okay, we've got two more plates of garbage --;Mr. Sturgeon --;" Wilbur barely whispered. "Uh --; we were just --; uh --; leaving, and --; uh --; good-bye." The two put down their plates and fled.
Mr. Sturgeon stared in amazement at the huge stack of empty Mr. Zucchini plates, and then at the four little bush hamsters in the cage. "Well, Drimsdale, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Would you prefer that Walton and O' Neal leave us?"
"It's no problem, Elm," said Bruno. "We could come back later and you could tell us then."
"That won't be necessary," said Elmer bravely. He turned to the Headmaster. "This has something to do with my bush hamsters, sir?"
"I fear so, Drimsdale. And I tell you honestly that I hate to do this. I find it commendable that you wish to save this species from extinction. But too many people know about this already, and keeping animals in this room is very clearly against the rules. You will have to move them elsewhere." He glared down the wide smile of inspiration on Bruno's face. "No, Walton. This includes your room and anyone else's room. And it also includes the rooms of any of the young ladies across the road, since we do not go there anymore. Am I right?" This time it was the Headmaster's turn to smile. "Now, Drimsdale, you may have a day or so to try and find another home for your bush hamsters. But if you cannot, perhaps you had better return them to their owners."
"Yes, sir," said Elmer.

* * *

Cathy hit the eject button, and out popped Boots's recording of the team meeting. It was Friday, the night before the big game. Earlier, she had retrieved the cassette from where Bruno and Boots had hidden it in the Macdonald Hall bushes by the roadside.
"Well, do you know it yet?" asked Diane sarcastically. "You've only listened to it three times."
"We're as ready as we're ever going to be," said the quarterback of the Macdonald Hall Warriors "My first game! I've never been this excited in my life!"
"What was all that growling on the tape? Or was someone watching 'Valley of the Dinosaurs' in the next room?"
"Oh," said Cathy airily, "that was The Beast, one of our players. Cute little guy. Calvin Somebody."
Diane swallowed hard. "Cathy, I know how much you love football, and I know you're fantastic, but are you sure you want to go through with this?"
"Of course I'm sure! You think I've done all this work so I can not play?"
"But Cathy, this isn't practice where they know you're a girl! This is a whole other team just itching to knock somebody's brains out! And as the quarterback, you're target number one!"
Cathy made a face. "Look, Diane, you've been listening to Miss Scrimmage for so long that you've started believing all that stuff about how young ladies are delicate flowers that fall apart at the slightest touch. Sure, I might not be as strong as some of those guys, but the big ones are the slow ones, and with any luck, I can stay out of their way. Okay, the team isn't great, but we've been working like crazy. And linemen protect the quarterback, whether she's a girl or not."
Diane sat down on her bed, frowning. "I don't know. You've done some crazy things before, but tomorrow --; I think about it, and I still can't believe it"
"Believe it," said Cathy. "Because tomorrow 'Elmer Drimsdale' is going out there to show them how it's done!"

Copyright © 1988 Gordon Korman, used by permission


When a Macdonald Hall Alumni makes a large donation to the school, Bruno is in heaven, filled with plans for a fantastic rec hall for the students. But Hank "The Tank" Carlson is an ex-line-backer-turned-businessman who has returned to the hall to fulfill his desire to coach football at the school where he got his education, and his donation is earmarked for building a state-of-the-art stadium for the Macdonald Hall Warriors to play in.

Though Bruno is ready to go to war for his Rec Room, the Tank is sympathetic, and promises to provide that, as well ... if the Warriors can make it to the playoffs their first year in the league. Bruno decides to take his war to the gridiron. The only problem? The Warriors suck.

The Macdonald Hall boys can't kick or throw, and they have little experience with football. Sidney Rampulsky frequently (and literally) trips over the ten yard line. The only person even vaguely connected with the Hall that can play (besides the Tank, himself) is Cathy Burton, over at Scrimmage's. And she's a girl! Enter the school's new star quarterback, school nerd, Elmer Drimsdale!? Cathy and Elmer are of similar builds, so she throws on a uniform and claims to be the science major.

But are Bruno's determination and Cathy's skills enough to turn the Hall's boys into full-fledged football men? How will Elmer take his sudden rise to stardom? And will the Fish (Headmaster Sturgeon) survive the return of his least-favorite student, Hank Carlson, now in the unofficial roll of coach? Its a roller coaster of character-driven humor in the fifth of Gordon Korman's Bruno & Boots titles!