David Adam

Is it hook-and-ladder or hook-and-lateral?

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 17, 2016 4:40 pm Updated: Oct. 17, 2016 5:04 pm

I recently read a story in The Herald-Whig in which a coach was quoted as using a "hook and ladder" play. There is no "hook and ladder" football play. It is a "hook and lateral." The receiver runs a hook pattern, catches the ball and laterals to a trailing teammate. The trailing teammate then attempts to run for a touchdown. He doesn't run to a three-alarm house fire or wash second-floor windows.

This reader describes the play perfectly. However, the name of the play remains in question.

One of the most famous plays in NFL history came in the 1982 AFC playoffs when the Miami Dolphins played the San Diego Chargers. With six seconds left in the first half, quarterback Don Strock threw a pass to wide receiver Duriel Harris in the middle of the field at the 25-yard line. Running back Tony Nathan then raced in front of Harris, who had Chargers defenders converging on him as he tossed the ball to Nathan racing toward the sideline. Nathan easily scored on the play.

Dave Hyde, a columnist for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., called it the greatest play in team history.

The play even became part of a Dolphins ticket commercial a year ago. Strock was recognized by a kid who makes the common mistake of saying, "Oh, man, you did the hook and ladder play."

"Yeah, but it's the hook and lateral," Strock said.

In the Dolphins' playbook, it was the "87-circle-curl-lateral." However, in a video showing some of the NFL's greatest plays, NFL.com refers to it as the "hook and ladder."

NCAA.com lists the seven greatest trick plays in the history of college football. One of them was when Boise State scored on the last play in regulation during the 2007 Orange Bowl against Oklahoma to tie the score at 35. Quarterback Jared Zabransky threw 15 yards to Drisan James, who lateraled to Jerard Rabb for the final 35 yards.

It is referred to on the website as the "hook and ladder."

Merriam-Webster.com refers to a hook and ladder as "a piece of mobile fire apparatus carrying ladders and usually other firefighting and rescue equipment." Dictionary.com refers to it as "a fire engine, usually a tractor-trailer, fitted with long, extensible ladders and other equipment."

Neither makes any reference to the football play.

The play is referred to as the "hook and ladder" on the cover of EA Sports NCAA Football 2008. An entry at Wikipedia.com says that the term has been incorrectly used commonly by sportscasters, coaches and fans for years, but "there does not seem to be any definitive proof of what the play was originally called or why."

The Associated Press stylebook does not have an entry about the definition.

For many years, I have heard Palmyra and Monroe City football fans argue over who is ahead in the all-time series between these two high schools. Does anybody know what the record is between those teams?

A run through The Herald-Whig archives shows that since 2000, Monroe City leads the series 9-8. The scores of the games were:

2016: Monroe City 22, Palmyra 16

2015: Palmyra 33, Monroe City 12

2014: Monroe City 32, Palmyra 0

2013: Palmyra 47, Monroe City 0

2012: Palmyra 42, Monroe City 6

2011: Monroe City 29, Palmyra 21

2010: Monroe City 22, Palmyra 20

2009: Monroe City 14, Palmyra 8

2008: Monroe City 14, Palmyra 7

2007: Palmyra 35, Monroe City 21

2006: Palmyra 21, Monroe City 0

2005: Palmyra 29, Monroe City 22

2004: Monroe City 28, Palmyra 7

2003: Palmyra 46, Monroe City 6

2002: Monroe City 19, Palmyra 14

2001: Monroe City 34, Palmyra 7

2000: Palmyra 21, Monroe City 20.

Finding scores for games from 1999 or longer ago would take a little more work. Phone calls to both high school athletic departments last week were not fruitful.

If any reader has a list of scores between these two teams dating back several years, please email it to sports@whig.com.

How can my sports question be answered? Just ask. We'll quiz players, coaches, athletic directors, officials, historians ... anyone who can tell us what you want to know. Submit questions to sports@whig.com or mail them to The Quincy Herald-Whig, P.O. Box 909, Quincy, IL 62301. Provide a name and phone number so we can respond or clarify information.

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