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Although he was born with a number of challenging physical conditions — including deafness and a disability that impacted his ability to walk and required that he wear leg braces during his childhood — 2021 Gretna High School graduate James Daniel Johnson has not allowed these challenges to affect his attitude or his ability to achieve his goals.

A knee injury sustained while playing catcher the summer before his freshman year of high school started Ryan Patterson on a swimming journey …

A knee injury while playing catcher the summer before his freshman year of high school started Ryan Patterson on a journey that led him to the…

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More than once, I winced at something the seemingly guileless main character, Ted Crutcher, spouts in Downing’s sly, smart thriller. Crutcher is Teacher of the Year at a private high school in the Northeast, one built on entitlement and wealth (Crutcher has little of either), where parents are not helicopters, but diabolical drones. Crutcher feels obligated, even driven, to “fiddle” with his students’ lives, to cajole, crusade, even murder on their unsuspecting behalf. Everything Crutcher does is for his students’ good. He’s a Dickens-loving Dexter, a psychopath with literary tendencies. When the consequences of one of his “fiddles” spirals out of control, Crutcher is caught in a battle of wits with three students out to uncover his demented machinations with a few of their own.

Tuesday cannot arrive soon enough for college football coaches and the prospects they are attempting to lure.

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