KNIGHTS OF THE HILL COUNTRY, by Tim Tharp (2006)
Interest Level: Upper Grades
Set in the small town of Kennisaw, Arkansas, where high school football reigns as the most important aspect of life, this is the story of the fighting Kennisaw Knights and their quest for a fifth consecutive winning season. More than that, though, it's the story of their star linebacker, Hampton Green, who wishes he could think as clearly and eloquently off the field as he can while he's on it, in the midst of a tension-packed game. Hampton tells his story in the dialect of the Deep South--and he speaks from the heart about his struggles with friendships, football, love, and his place among them all.
I am not a huge fan of football fiction, but this book has a lot more to offer than just the gridiron--there are strong characters, with the main storyline revolving around Hampton figuring out just what kind of man he wants to become.