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Paul Revere at running back and the historic football offense

  • Bow High football coach Paul Cohen (center, baseball hat) watches his team compete against Souhegan on Nov. 9, 2019. Cohen’s frequent quoting of legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu inspired our historical football team.  RICH MIYARA file / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 5/10/2020 8:09:07 AM

Two Sundays ago, we unveiled the defense for our historical football team, a workplace gag that was inspired by Bow High football coach Paul Cohen. The coach likes to drop quotes from historical figures into post-game interviews, and after several references to legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, the idea of Sun Tzu as a middle linebacker took root.

We spoke to Cohen before publishing that first story and he gave us his blessing. He even gave us an original quote that included some thoughts on his role as the team’s coach.

“I am most pleased and also quite humbled that the Monitor would choose me to be the impetus for this most thought-provoking and entertaining look at the gridiron from a historical perspective,” said Cohen, who teaches math and history at Bow High and has a Ph.D. in ancient history and theology. “I am also humbled to be considered the motivation for such an auspicious assemblage of historical figures throughout the ages. To wit: What Vince Lombardi-esque magic would I have to employ to manage that extremely diverse group of individuals into a solid, capable, competent football team.”

The defense is definitely diverse with a range of characters from Geronimo (free safety) to Shaka Zulu (outside linebacker) to Grigori Rasputin (defensive end). The diversity continues on the offensive side of the ball, which we are about to break down for you. As he did for the defense, former Monitor colleague and historical football co-GM Drew Bonifant helped with the offensive scouting report – Bonifant covers the skill positions while I break down the offensive line and tight end.

George Washington, quarterback

The quarterback needs to be a leader, and it’s tough to find a better one than our first president. The colonists looked to Washington to lead them first against the British army, then into a new dawn of government, so we’re betting Washington would also be a galvanizing presence on the gridiron. He weathered plenty of tough times (winter at Valley Forge, anyone?), which means he’s not going to be fazed by a fourth-quarter deficit or some bad calls. If Washington had an accurate throwing arm, this is a slam dunk.

Paul Revere, halfback

We’ll stick with the Revolutionary theme in the backfield. Revere brings speed and stamina as a scatback, and it’s easy to imagine him galloping around the edge on pitches and sweeps. No need for breathers here – Revere is a player this offense can ride all game long. He’s also versatile; someone who counted dentist, blacksmith and soldier among his trades wouldn't be a one-trick pony back there. Added bonus: Revere is a prime-time performer. The closer the game is to midnight, the more he shines.

Attila the Hun, fullback

You could do worse than a feared conqueror at a tough position like fullback. Attila raised a powerful army that took on the mighty Roman Empire, so it’s hard to imagine him being denied when he gets the ball in short-yardage situations. Blocking might be a question mark, but Attila was resourceful, and he would probably learn the techniques needed to get the job done. If Larry Czonka and Mike Alstott were tough to tackle in their playing days, the “Scourge of God” would be a nightmare.

Manfred von Richthofen, wide receiver

The “Red Baron” that Snoopy daydreamed of fighting in Peanuts comics was indeed real, and one of the most renowned fighter pilots in all of warfare. The Red Baron would be the vertical threat, making artistic and daring catches that give this team a true aerial presence. Speed, agility, an ability to sidestep danger that would come in handy over the middle – the Baron would have it all. He’d probably have great hands too, but admittedly, that’s a guess.

Teddy Roosevelt, wide receiver

Roosevelt would be this offense’s Julian Edelman, a receiver with boundless energy and an appetite for contact. Roosevelt was a picture of strength and toughness – he gave a campaign speech after being shot in the chest – and before becoming president he was the daring leader of the heroic Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. He’d catch the slant for a first down on 3rd-and-8, laugh off the hit, flip the ball back to the official and do it again.

Joseph Joffre, left tackle

Who better to anchor the line than the man who helped establish what might be the most famous line in military history – the Western Front of World War I. Just when it looked like the Germans were going to rout the French, Joffre’s forces stopped them 25 miles outside of Paris. Sure, his pre-war plan was part of the problem, but Joffre prevented the sack of Paris and extended the play long enough for the Allied Powers to regroup and hold the line for the next four years. That’s plenty of time for a receiver to get open. Joffre also had great size and was known for his uncanny calm, excellent traits for holding off invading defensive ends.

Harriet Tubman, left guard

She might be undersized, but Tubman knows how to clear a path for people who need to move in a hurry. Born into slavery in Maryland, Tubman escaped to the North but returned to the South about a dozen times to help some 70 enslaved people escape on the Underground Railroad. She never lost a passenger on the Railroad, so we’re thinking she is never going to miss an assignment on the gridiron. She might be the only woman on the team, but breaking down barriers is nothing new for Tubman, who was a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War and is considered the first African American woman to be a member of the U.S. military.

Leonidas I, center

The Spartan warrior king held off a horde of Persians with just a handful of Greeks during the now-famous Battle of Thermopylae, so holding the A gap should be a piece of cake. There were only 300 Spartans defending the Thermopylae pass against what looked like millions of Persians in the 2006 movie 300, but the truth is there were also 900 other soldiers standing with the 300 Spartans against a Persian force that was probably between 70,000 and 300,000 strong. Still, we know Leonidas isn’t going to back down when a couple linebackers blitz the middle.

William TecumsehSherman, right guard

After capturing and burning Atlanta during the Civil War, Sherman made his famous March to the Sea. The Union general led more than 60,000 men from Atlanta to Savannah, Ga., leaving nothing but scorched ground in his wake. We won’t need the burning, looting or murdering, but imagine the kind of running lane Sherman could clear as a pulling guard? It would be trail of pancaked linemen and linebackers leading to a sea of touchdowns.

William Wallace,right tackle

If Washington needs help with motivational speeches, Wallace is his man. The Scottish knight helped inspire a revolution and won battles against the English despite being vastly outnumbered, so he can motivate his fellow linemen to hold firm against the blitz. Wallace died protecting what he loved, Scottish freedom, and we expect that same attitude when it comes to protecting the quarterback.

Abraham Lincoln, tight end

Catching passes, run blocking, pass protecting – much is asked of the tight end, just like much was asked of Lincoln. At 6-foot-4, he has ideal size, and his trademark top hat makes him especially easy to spot over the middle. He famously walked for miles to find books as a child, so we’re confident he’ll be living in our playbook. And Lincoln is great in the locker room, although some of the guys might get a little tired hearing about, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

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