The ‘greatest football story’ ever told?
West Virginians remember the buzz and glamour associated with a Hollywood-style premiere. Warner Bros. shot for three weeks in Huntington during the production of “We Are Marshall,” which, of course, concerns the tragic plane crash, the community’s sorrow, and how they rallied to restart football.
“We Are Marshall” noted in postscripts that a couple of decades later, the we play for championships began. Marshall spent long periods of winning only one or two games a season.
Like “We Are…,” “When the Game Stands Tall” concerns tragedy: the death of a promising player. But De La Salle in Concord, Calif., has a record not shared by any other high school, college or professional team – a 151 game win streak.
That’s not all. Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) had 399 career wins before stepping down in 2012. Ladouceur has often stressed, it is not about sports or winning, “it’s about growing up, forgiveness, commitment and brotherhood.”
Based on a book by the same title, the drama has been acclaimed as “one of the greatest football stories ever told,” which provides a roadmap for developing great teams and great young men. ESPN previously produced “151: The Greatest Streak.”
“Human vulnerability gets equal time with athletic invincibility throughout” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle of the book.
The team’s winning streak ended in 2004 after two off season tragedies. Terrence Kelly was murdered the night before he was to leave for the University of Oregon on a football scholarship. Later, Coach Ladouceur suffered a heart attack.
The film opens across the country August 22.
An advance premiere of “When the Game Stands Tall” will be held near the high school with the film playing on all seven screens of the multiplex.
Proceeds will go to a scholarship fund in Kelly’s honor.
Incidentally, the coach’s “retirement” did not last long. He became an assistant coach at the school in 2013, where the team finished 14-1, losing the state championship game.