QB 1

QB 1

by Mike Lupica


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From #1 New York Times bestselling author of TRAVEL TEAM, HEAT, and MILLION-DOLLAR THROW comes a cheer-worthy, family-friendly football novel set amid the Friday Night Lights world of Texas high school football

Jake Cullen is a freshman quarterback playing high school football in Texas, the high-pressure land of Friday Night Lights. He is also the brother of Wyatt Cullen, who quarterbacked his team to the Texas State Championship last season—not to mention the son of former NFL quarterback and local legend, Troy Cullen. To be a Cullen in Texas is to be football royalty . . . which leaves 14-year-old Jake in a Texas-sized shadow. Being a good teammate comes naturally to Jake; being a winner and a celebrity does not. Jake may be a Cullen, and he may play quarterback, but he is not his brother or his father.  He's just like every other kid: fighting for every ounce of respect, awkward around a pretty girl, in awe of his famous family, and desparate to simultaneously blend in and cast his own shadow. Inspired by the real-life Manning family of quarterbacks and set amid the football-crazy culture of Texas, QB 1 is a coming-of-age story perfect for the fan of MILLION-DOLLAR THROW and HEAT.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780147511522
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 80,144
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Mike Lupica is the author of multiple bestselling books for young readers, including Heat, Travel Team, Million-Dollar Throw, and The Underdogs. He has carved out a niche as the sporting world’s finest storyteller. Mike lives in Connecticut with his wife and their four children. When not writing novels, Mike Lupica writes for New York's Daily News, appears on ESPN's The Sports Reporters and hosts The Mike Lupica Show on ESPN Radio. You can visit Mike Lupica at mikelupicabooks.com

Read an Excerpt

IF YOU WERE A HIGH SCHOOL QUARTERBACK, A TEXAS HIGH school quarterback, this was the moment you imagined for your­self from the first time somebody said you had some arm on you.

This was football now, pure football, the way you drew it up, but not in some playbook.

In your dreams.

And in Texas, usually your dad had dreamt all the best ones first.

Two minutes left, ball in your hands, game in your hands, sea­son in your hands. State championship on the line, the new 1AA championship for small schools like yours. One of those small-town, big-dream schools. Like you were the one in the book or the TV show and you were playing for Friday Night Lights High.

Only this was your school, the Granger High Cowboys, against Fort Carson, in Boone Stadium, the fancy new stadium at Texas State University.
Fort Carson ahead, 20–16. Cowboys’ ball at their own twenty-yard line.

One time-out left.

Even if you were a high school senior, already had a college scholarship in your pocket to the University of Texas, even if you could see yourself in the pros someday, there was no way to know if it would be exactly like this for you ever again—one shot like this with it all on the line.

Unless you were somebody like Eli Manning, and you got to do it twice, in the Super Bowl, the way Eli had done it twice to the Patriots. Eli: bringing his team from behind in the biggest football game there was, winning both of those Super Bowls in the last minute, something no one—not even Eli’s big brother Peyton—had done in the history of the National Football League.

But the quarterback in Boone Stadium now wasn’t a Manning. It was Wyatt Cullen. Son of Troy Cullen, who’d been the greatest quarterback to come out of this part of Texas—at least until his son Wyatt came along.

Around here, people lived out their dreams through their high school football stars. All the ones who’d grown up in Granger and knew they’d probably die there wanted to know why you’d ever want to be one of those Manning brothers when you could be a Cullen in Granger, Texas.
Now Wyatt: in his senior year, in the last high school game he was ever going to play, his last chance to be a total high school hero and win the state title in the last minute the way his dad had once.

Like Wyatt was born to do it, born for this kind of moment, with what felt like the whole town of Granger in the stands on their side of the field.

Some sportswriter would quote Wyatt later as saying he imag­ined every pickup in their town was parked outside Boone Sta­dium, like there had been some kind of caravan of pickups all the way from Granger to here, to the kind of big game that made a small town like Granger feel like the capital of the whole world.

First down pass for him, left side, the kind of deep-out-pattern throw you needed a big arm to make, the throw all the scouts wanted to see and had been seeing from Wyatt since he became Granger’s starter as a freshman. This one was to Wyatt’s favorite receiver, Calvin Morton, a sophomore with big speed and big hands, tall as a tight end at six five, but skinny as a fence post. Gain of twenty to Calvin right out of the rodeo chute, as Wyatt’s dad liked to say.

Ball on the forty, just like that. Room for Wyatt to maneuver now. Room to breathe. Clock stopped when Calvin went out of bounds. Minute fifty remaining.

All day.

Everybody standing in Boone Stadium. All those familiar faces on the Granger side, Dad and Mom pretty much in the same spot they had for home games at Granger High, fifty-yard line, maybe ten rows up. All the other Friday nights and Saturday afternoons had built up to this one. Cheerleaders on the field in the big area between the wall of the stands and the Cowboys’ bench, not doing much cheering right now, almost like they were frozen in place, all those pretty girls watching along with everybody else to see how the big game would come out.

Sarah Rayburn, the only freshman on the squad, she was that pretty, looking so scared and so nervous you were afraid she might be about to cry, even with that cheerleader smile of hers locked in place.

Wyatt went right back to Calvin on the next play. Fort Carson’s pass rush made Wyatt work this time, flushing him out of the pocket, same kind of pressure they’d been putting on him all day. But Wyatt bought himself just enough time, scrambling to his right. Wyatt was as accurate on the run with that arm as if he had all day in the pocket and hit Calvin in stride at midfield.

Clock running.

Wyatt hurried everybody up to the new line of scrimmage, going with the second play he’d called in the huddle, a right side­line route to his tight end, Roy Gilley. Another strike, Roy shoved out of bounds by their strong safety.

One minute, one second left.

Next came the play they’d talk about for a long time in Granger, in the ice-cream parlors and barbecue joints where they all grew up, where the only thing they talked about all week in those places, and on the town’s lone radio station, was last week’s game.

Wyatt Cullen, number 10, in that Cowboy blue that matched the blue of the Dallas Cowboys, surrounded this time, huge pres­sure now, one of the defensive linemen with a handful of blue jer­sey, trying to fight off a blocker and pull Wyatt down with his free hand.

The action actually seemed to stop in that moment, everybody saying afterward that they were sure Wyatt was getting sacked, guys on both teams saying they kept waiting for the ref to blow his whistle.

But he didn’t.

Because Wyatt wasn’t about to go down.

Instead he stumbled as he somehow freed himself of the guy’s grasp and left the pocket, pulling free, getting free, running for his life to his left.

Half the Fort Carson defense still coming for him.

But Wyatt wasn’t looking behind him, he was looking down the field. Having bought himself just enough time to do that, Wyatt was able to fling the ball while running, barely taking long enough to plant his right foot, heaving it half-sidearm as far as he could in the direction of Calvin Morton.

Letting it rip even though Calvin was double-covered by a cor­ner and a safety. Wyatt told everybody later that he’d overcooked the sucker on purpose, that’s why it looked like an overthrow as it started to fall out of the sky, Wyatt wanting Calvin to be the only one with a chance to go up and get it.

And there was Calvin, going up for that pass like this was the way he’d drawn it up in his dreams.

The safety and the corner could both jump pretty good. Yet not like Calvin Morton, who went up and outfought both of them, bobbling the ball just slightly, somehow pinning it to the front of his right shoulder pad with his huge mitt of a left hand.

Landing hard on his back, helmet going sideways as he did, somehow maintaining control of the ball.

Now there was Wyatt racing down the field, maybe as fast as he’d ever moved on a football field, waving his teammates to run with him. Not wanting to burn that last time-out in his pocket, wanting everybody lined up as soon as the ref started the clock again, having stopped it because of the first down.

He spiked the ball as soon as it was snapped to him. Twenty-eight seconds left. Ball on the Fort Carson seventeen.

Wyatt figured he had all the time he needed, even if they didn’t make another first down, that he could make four throws to the end zone, easy, if he had to.

But he needed only one.

Needed only one because Calvin made this sweet, tight inside move on the corner, like he was going to run a post, then just flat froze the guy and the safety giving inside help when he made an even better cut, at full speed, toward the left corner of the end zone.

Wyatt’s pass, dead spiral, hit those big hands as softly as your head hitting your pillow, and it was 22–20, Granger.

Now it had become the high school moment, in Texas or any­where else, they had all really dreamed about their whole lives, going ahead in the last seconds of the big game like this.

Couldn’t tell it by watching Wyatt Cullen, though. He was the coolest guy in Boone Stadium, pointing up to where his parents and his kid brother were, all of them losing their minds the way everybody around them was.

There was Sarah, the close-up of her face they’d use not only in the TV highlights, but also in the Granger Dispatch, looking about as happy as a high school girl ever could, eyes on Wyatt.

There was old Coach John McCoy, his Granger jacket halfway zipped the way it always was, no matter how hot the Texas weather was, showing you the white shirt and the tie he always wore, had worn since he coached Troy Cullen in games like these. Coach getting some love from the TV cameras his own self, as they liked to say in Texas, calmly holding up one finger, not saying the Cowboys were already number one, not getting ahead of him­self, just telling his boys to kick the point after.
Clay Smolders’s kick was center cut. Now it was 23–20 for Granger.

Fort Carson managed to get off three desperation heaves. When the last one fell harmlessly to the ground at around the Granger forty, it was over.

Then Wyatt Cullen was in the air, above it all, carried around by the bigger guys on his team. Even looking cool up there, above the action now instead of in the middle of it. Smiling when the cameras closed on him, like he was exactly where he was sup­posed to be, like he knew all along that this was the way his day and his high school career were supposed to end.

His kid brother, Jake, froze the scene right there.

Hit the remote and froze his big brother on TiVo. Right there on the close-up, on Wyatt’s smile. Like Wyatt really had known all along, since he first played catch with Troy Cullen in the pasture behind the barn, the first time Dad was the one telling him he had the arm.

Jake pointed the remote at the big screen, sat there in the quiet den, waiting for his buddies to come pick him up and head over to Mickey’s Bar-B-Q tonight, wondering all over again what the view was really like up there for Wyatt. What it was like to actually be Wyatt Cullen, even though he’d grown up in the same house with him, looked up to him his whole life.

Jake: wondering if he’d ever get anywhere near a moment like that at Granger High.

Or if he’d ever even be the first-string quarterback at Granger High, whether he was a Cullen or not.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This is a wonderful book by a great writer.  All football fathers and sons will enjoy it."—Archie Manning

Customer Reviews

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QB 1 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
rockygirl1 More than 1 year ago
If you’ve followed my reviews at all you know that I have a few great weaknesses.  And one of them is sports related books.  I am not a huge football fan.  In fact, I really only like college football.  But turn on my team (go Dukes!) and I am there.  I especially like to be in the stands with streamers flying and screaming until I am hoarse.  Yep, that is what football is all about for me.  So when I saw this one at the library, somehow I found it in my hand and checked out before I even knew what hit me. Yeah, see, since I’m not working I’m TRYING really hard not to spend so much in books.  I didn’t say I was not buying books at all because that would be very unlike me.  What I am doing is being more selective and buying the ones that I know that I want.  I am using the library to piece together the books that I think I might like. I gotta tell you.  This one? WINNER! As I’m reading the book I flip back to the inside cover and read that it is inspired by the Manning family, Archie, Peyton, and Eli.  Yeah, even this non-football loving girl has heard of them.  I loved the characters that Lupica builds.  Jake is awesome.  He is so not confident in the beginning of the book.  He has always lived in the shadow of his father and brother.  But, by the end, it is beginning to look like he might even be a better QB than his brother.  Then there is Wyatt who has always been so amazing and suddenly goes to Texas to play for the Longhorns and learns that maybe he needs to step back a minute or two and take a few lessons from his younger brother. And then there is Troy Cullen, the father of Jake and Wyatt who has as much to learn as both of his sons and the glue that holds them all together, their mom Libbie.  The biggest question is will Jake be able to do something that Wyatt didn’t, will he be able to take his team to the state championship his freshman year? I have to say, after reading this one, I am actually kind of excited to read more of Lupica’s books.  I am such a baseball fanatic, that I am thinking to try one of his baseball books next. I will admit to giving it a 4 because I skimmed through some of the technical football jargon.  I might as well have been reading another language.  But if you have a teenage boy in need of a book report? This would be a great choice.  Seriously, this book is awesome for the sport fanatic! I loved this story, and it had just enough other fluff to it to keep me hooked without going overboard!
NickCody More than 1 year ago
I strongly recommend that you read this book. QB1 is very intriguing book about a freshman football player that is living in the shadow of his father and his older brother, who were both star quarterbacks that lead the high school varsity football team to win the championship game and started varsity as freshman. I disagree with any reviews that gives this book three stars or less because the characters all have different personalities that allow you to get to know them better. This book isn’t just about football but about a high school experience for a freshman living up to the expectation of his older brother and his father. The reasons why I think that this book is good are because of the message behind it. The message I received from the book was that no matter how big of a shadow you have to overcome, just be who you want to be and live up to your standards, not anyone else’s.  Also take the time to practice to get better at somet6hing if you enjoy it. Lastly even if someone is competing against you for something it is important to not get too competitive about it and treat the other person badly. For example when Casey and Jake were battling over the job for starting QB, Casey was treating Jake badly and didn’t give him a chance to proof himself. My favorite character in the book is Jake because he is an inspiration to all, because as a younger brother of a star high school quarter back and the son of a father, who played in the NFL; he keeps his head up and decides to be himself and live up to his expectations. My favorite quote was spoken by Jake’s dad saying, “Who you are is where you come from.” This is my favorite quote because it is the most inspiring quote a coach or father could give a player. If you live in a high-class society and given everything you ask for you’re not going to make it far in life. But if you have to work and earn what you have and do, you will get far because of all the hard work and dedication you put into everything.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is as good as any other of his books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like this book. It has a great story line abd cast s, setting, and plot. I would have rated it 5 stars, but i did not like all the swear word. I counted 11 swear words but other wise it is a good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thy best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read this book multple times and every time i a astonished at how the story unfolds and i cant help but relating him to me. :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I take back the previous statement. Lack of Promotion research. I, valuing honesty, have henceforth Taken Issue with a small statement in the overview. To be specific, "-football-crazy culture of Texas." My family has lived in the Republic of Texas for over a century, and we are all for the most part indifferent to football. That is all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I'll use my strength to overcome it all." "We shall never drift apart" "We all carry these things inside that no one else can see. They hold us down like anchors, they drown us out at sea." "Never hold me down."
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mike Lupica describes how it's like to be a shadow
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You've we've she've he'd she'd we'd they'd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an extremly compelling story that I would recommend to any athlete.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book should be a five star because this book gives you a mesage.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No idiot QB1 means tarting QB? Who wants to hear a story about a backup?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best sports book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
5 rate
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is there going to be a qb2 ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. Havent read this book yet