“All about a foot ball game” part 2 of 3. Read part 1 here.
Athletics should never dominate in the colleges, but they have been proven essential as a companion of the class rooms in the development of the best all around manhood, and no better instrument can be employed in making enduring physiques than foot ball and the training incident thereto.
The many fine points of the game itself cannot be explained in a brief article, such as this. those who would play the game are advised to look to other sources for instruction. the object of this is to make such a plain, simple statement of the play as will enable one who is utterly ignorant of football to read it and understand generally a battle on the “gridiron” such the field is called, because it is usually marked throughout its length with parallel lines running across it five yards distant from each other giving the field much the appearance of an immense gridiron. these lines are marked to aid the referee and linesman in ascertaining accurately and quickly just how far the ball has been carried in any one play. The “referee” makes all rulings relative to the ball. the linesman’s chief duty is to note under the direction of the referee just how far the ball has been carried. The umpire has charge of the players themselves and judges when there has been any rough or unfair playing by the men, and inflicts penalities therefor.
A foot ball field is 110 yards long and 160 feet wide. The lines forming the ends of the field are called the goal lines and in the center of these lines the goal posts are erected. Two upright posts, at least twenty feet high, are erected in the center of the goal lines, standing eighteen feet six inches apart, and to these are fastened a horizontal crossbar ten feet from the ground. The use of all this will appear later.
The ball used is an oval-shaped one, consisting of an inflated rubber, which is covered with pigskin. The teams are composed of eleven men each and each defends its goal line. The object of the game is to carry the ball across the opponents’ goal line and touch it to the ground. When this is done a “touchdown” is made and the side touching the ball down scores four points. When a touchdown is made then it is always possible for the side which has made it to add two more points to its score by kicking the goal. That side, by which a touchdown has been made, can bring the ball out in the field a suitable distance from where the ball was touched down, and, when there, one of the players takes it and places it very near to, but not touching the ground, supporting the ball between his hands. Then, when the man who is to do the kicking, is ready he signals to the one holding the ball, who removes his hand nearest the ground, and the kicker kicks the ball, in an effort to drive it between the goal posts and over the cross-bar. If successful, this “kicking goal” adds two points to the score. In any event the ball is given to the side which as been scored against, and the play begins again from the center of the field. There are two other ways of scoring, but they will be explained later.
To begin at the beginning, suppose two opposing elevens are upon the field to play, the toss of a coin will decide which one is to take the ball and have the opening play. The other side chooses which goal it will defend. The team getting the ball places it upon the exact center of the field, and the opposing team must remain behind the second line, or ten yards in its territory until the opening play is made. This is done by some member of the eleven having the ball kicking it as far toward the opponents’ goal line as possible.
Naturally, the ball will be secured by a player into whose territory it has been kicked, and there are then two ways in which he may bring the ball back. He may punt it as far as he can, in which case the original holders of the ball will doubtless regain possession, or he can run and bring it in that way as far as possible until he is tackled and thrown down. In which case his side would still have possession of the ball and the two teams would then line up for a scrimmage at the point where the ball was downed, and the holders would have three attempts at running in which to carry the ball five yards into opponents’ territory. As long as they succeeded in making the five yards in three “downs,” as the trials are called, they would continue to hold the ball. But if they should fail to make five yards in any given three trials, then the ball would “go over” – be given to the opponents, and they would then attempt in a series of “downs” likewise to bear the ball into the territory and across the goal line of the other eleven.
In a scrimmage, the ball is given to a player called the snap back, usually the center rush. Upon his right and left respectively, lined closely together, are the right and left guards, tackles and ends. Immediately behind the snap back stands the quarter back; behind and on either side of him stand the right half back and the left half back, and behind these, several feet distant, stands the full back. These are the positions of the players of the team having the ball. The “line men” of the other eleven – they are the center, guards, tackles and ends – line up opposite and shoulder to shoulder to the line of men of the team holding the ball, while the backs assume whatever positions appear wisest and promise the quickest defeat of the coming play.