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Domino by Nick Tasler

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2Why the Principal Killed the Football Team

One Friday afternoon in September a few years ago, high school students in the rural south Texas town of Premont gathered for a pep rally. Teenaged giggles, creaky bleachers, and the smell of stale popcorn and sweat socks filled the air of the old Premont High School gymnasium. Meanwhile the painted-faced students cheered and shook their noisemakers, releasing the week's pent-up energy in a collective display of school spirit.

On first glance, the casual observer would not have seen anything especially unusual. Sure, the building looked a bit outdated. But then again, most rural school buildings outside the reach of fast-growing suburban areas are outdated. What's new? All things considered, this gathering would look pretty much the same as the thousands of other Friday afternoon pep rallies happening all around America that autumn—the kind of pep rallies that you and I remember going to during our school years.

But if the observer stuck around for a little while, she would notice something conspicuously absent. High school boys in red Premont Cowboy football jerseys were nowhere to be found. Later that night—and every other Friday night that fall—the only people you would find on the grass inside the run-down Jimmy Livingston Football Stadium were a few 9- or 10-year-old kids and their dads prepping the field for the next morning's peewee football games.

Eventually the observer would have to ask the obvious question.

Where is the ...

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