Like any good sports drama, Iron Age Theatre's world premiere production of Ray Saraceni's Maroons: The Anthracite Gridiron covers as much action off the field as in the game; maybe more. And like the most successful efforts in its genre, filmed, staged or literary, Saraceni connects the thrills and agonies of winning and losing, the struggle against all odds, to their parallels outside the stadium.
The odds are stacked mightily against Pottsville's hometown heroes, the Maroons, a bunch of "coal crackers," who got their name when sporting goods supplier Zacko (Dave Fiebert) sold team owner "Doc" Streigel (Luke Moyer) the only color jerseys he had in stock, along with a free pigskin ball. Against a backdrop of union strikes and the birth of professional football, this scrappy team was the only reason several of its members would spend a full working year above ground. Somehow, the Maroons won the 1925 NFL championship, and went on to grapple with Notre Dame's storied Knute Rockne-coached "Four Horsemen." Even today, signs around Pottsville celebrate the boys' win and cite the bitter controversy that followed.