In honor of the opening night of high school football season, I've been asked/challenged by Cory Giger to write about my favorite high school football movie.
"Remember the Titans" is not only my favorite high school football movie but my favorite sports movie - OK, "Pride of the Yankees" still tugs at the heart strings - and one of my all-time favorite movies period.
Now, I don't profess to being a film guru and have never had my own column in "Go," but "Remember the Titans" was so good that I'm confident it should be in this conversation.
The movie had everything - drama, football action, emotion - and was based on a true story. As they do in movies, some liberties were taken and facts stretched, like the Titans having to come from behind in the championship game (the truth is the team never trailed), but that didn't matter because the main theme was so strong.
And that was how T.C. Williams High School in Virginia, forced to integrate in 1971, took its lead from the football team and came together as one.
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There were struggles along the way, with racist, influential parents threatening to "boycott T.C." and head coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington) getting a brick thrown through the window of his house.
But relationships slowly grew.
Boone eventually became close to assistant coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton), the former head coach before the jointure who sacrificed for the good of the team and is the movie's unsung hero.
The scenes at camp, held at Gettysburg College, were classic. African-Americans and whites were told to room together and - through football - had their wariness and hostility ultimately transformed into one unit singing on the bus on their way home.
The team's two stars, Julius Campbell and Gary Bertier, went from enemies to best friends, culminating with an emotional hospital scene near the end of the movie after Bertier was paralyzed in a car crash.
There were colorful characters like Blue and Sunshine, Rev and Louie Lastik, blacks and whites who learned about each other and learned to appreciate one another.
The movie ends with the players reconvening in a graveyard for Bertier's funeral about 10 years later, exiting to the same song (''na, na, na, na ... hey, hey ... goodbye") they sang on the bus from camp.
It showed how sports, in this case football, can set an example.
I could watch it every night.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.