By Ginny McCabe
Special to ASSIST News Service
NEW ORLEANS, La. (ANS) — With the cast that stars Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis and Alexander Ludwig, When The Game Stands Tall is currently being filmed at a high school football stadium in New Orleans, La. Directed by Thomas Carter, the movie is slated to open in theaters on Sept. 19.
Inspired by a book of the same name from Neil Hayes, and based on a true story, the movie is the latest installment from the same company that has delivered a string of successful films like Soul Surfer, Courageous and Fireproof, among others.
Produced by Mandalay for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) and its AFFIRM Films division, this inspirational, sports drama draws its material from legendary De La Salle High School football coach Bob Ladouceur, “Coach Lad” (Caviezel) and his assistant coach Terry Eidson (Chiklis), who took the Concord (Calf.) Spartans on a 151-game winning streak from 1992 to 2003, shattering all records.
According to MaxPreps.com reporter Mitch Stephens, Ladouceur currently coaches varsity running backs for the Spartans. In May, Comcast Sports Net Bay Area’s Mike Maoicco reported that San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh approached Ladouceur about working as a consultant in “team dynamics” for the reigning NFC champions.
The moving story unfolds as Coach Lad and Eidson demonstrate the power of team building that is founded on strong principles like character, faith, responsibility and commitment, said producer David Zelon. He said, in the end, the team and its players learn to stand for something much greater than winning.
Ladouceur’s achievements span more than three decades with the Spartans and include a historic 12-year, 151-game run of consecutive wins, 20 undefeated seasons, seven national titles, five CIF Bowl championships, 17 state championships and 28 CIF North Coast titles. Ladouceur retired in January 2013 and he holds the title for the highest-winning percentage of any coach (.934) with a 399-25-3 record.
“The story of ‘When The Game Stands Tall’ resonates far beyond football or sports in the way all great sports films do. At its core, this is a timeless and universal story about character, hard work and love. Coach Lad’s inspirational and unyielding focus on building integrity, discipline, faith and commitment above all else is his foundation for excelling in coaching and life, and is what gives this story its unique power and magic,” said Steve Bersch, president, SPWA.
“On the surface, it appears that these players just won a lot of football games, but what makes this story so special is that this is a coach who placed little value on winning, instead focusing his players on giving a ‘perfect effort’ in life,” added Zelon. “Underneath it is a resounding testimonial about how much more kids can achieve when they are challenged with responsibility and commitment.”
“I think a ‘perfect effort’ means that you are striving to be the best man you can be on and off of the field. When I was first offered the role and when I read the script, what resonated with me was the coaches’ approach. It not only impacted one group of kids, but generations of kids,” remarked Ludwig, who plays star running back Chris Ryan in the movie.
“Their objective was to turn these boys into men and create a brotherhood. It had nothing to do with winning games and that’s why they were so successful at it,” he continued.
Inside The Pew sports writer Jacob Trimmer contributed to this report.