One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever National Championship High School Football…

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One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever National Championship High School Football…

by Don Wallace

Atria Books | September 16, 2003 | Hardcover

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In the rich tradition of Friday Night Lights comes this heart-stopping account of the first ever national championship high school football game.

They said such a game was impossible. For 131 years, a No. 1 and a No. 2 high school team had never met -- though not for lack of trying. Then came October 6, 2001: two great teams, Concord De La Salle and Long Beach Poly, playing for all the marbles. Two contrasting cities, each upholding its vision of America. One thrilling game.

On the one side we find Concord, a wealthy, high-tech suburb in Northern California. De La Salle is private, nearly all white, and Catholic, with an astonishing nine-year, 113-game winning streak -- the longest of any team in any sport in history, amateur or professional. Coach Bob Ladouceur is a legend, and a mystic who demands perfection. The Spartans thrive on year-round training and a spirit of love. Critics call them a cult.

Long Beach is a gritty, mostly poor, Southern California seaport, the most diverse city in America. Poly High sends more players to the NFL than any other school, more students to the University of California, and alums such as Cameron Diaz and Snoop Dogg to stardom. Poly High is a beacon of public school excellence. But the Jackrabbits play in a fishbowl of high expectations and often excessive community scrutiny.

On both teams the young men are tested physically, mentally, spiritually, and most of all by the intense media spotlight on their behavior, skin color, SAT scores, economic class, and moral character. Would they crumple under the pressure? Can they withstand the lure of drug and supplement abuse while fighting off the distractions of college recruiters and rabid fans?

One Great Game takes us inside the schools and their teams, into the hearts and minds of the players, coaches, teachers, parents, and followers. Don Wallace spent a full year in their locker rooms and in their lives. The result is a powerful portrait not only of American high school sports but of two cultures that taken together define modern American life.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.08 in

Published: September 16, 2003

Publisher: Atria Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0743446216

ISBN - 13: 9780743446211

Found in: Sports and Fitness

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– More About This Product –

One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever National Championship High School Football…

by Don Wallace

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.08 in

Published: September 16, 2003

Publisher: Atria Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0743446216

ISBN - 13: 9780743446211

Read from the Book

Chapter One RUMORS On December 7, 1991 -- nine years and 299 days before the first high-school national championship game -- the Concord (California) De La Salle Spartans suffered what they still refer to as their own "day of infamy": they lost a football game. With two minutes and nineteen seconds to play, Percy McGee snatched an interception and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Pirates of Pittsburg High School a 35-27 lead and putting them in reach of an upset over the Spartans, who hadn''t lost for thirty-five games. The Pittsburg Pirates were the underdogs. Pittsburg is a gritty, blue-collar, racially mixed port town on the windswept outlet where the Sacramento Delta empties into Suisun Bay, a distant and distinctly unglamorous backwater of the San Francisco Bay. De La Salle -- private, suburban, Christian Brothers-founded -- was going for its fourth consecutive California North Coast Section championship and had future New York Giants star Amani Toomer among its standouts on the field. More than any single player, though, De La Salle had Robert Ladouceur, then thirty-seven years old and completing his twelfth year as Spartan head coach. Before taking the job, only the second coaching position he''d ever held, Ladouceur had been a juvenile probation officer at age twenty-five, moonlighting as a high school football assistant. As De La Salle''s coach, he became a legend. Not right away, of course; but soon enough his reputation as a perfectionist started to precede
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Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue

One: Rumors

Two: Out Where the West Begins

Three: "What a Place for Children!"

Four: The Ambush

Five: The Clash

Six: God''s Team

Seven: Minor Miracles

Eight: Something in the Water

Nine: Calm Before the Storm

Ten: Sour Rhubarb

Eleven: Precious Blood

Twelve: Fall

Thirteen: Minority Rules

Fourteen: The Shortest Season

Fifteen: Prelude in G(ames) Minor

Sixteen: Seven Days

Seventeen: Twenty-four Hours

Eighteen: A Parade

Nineteen: Vets

Twenty: The Game Don''t Wait

Twenty-one: Go Tell the Spartans

Twenty-two: Still Time for a Hero

Twenty-three: Send in the Clones

Twenty-four: After the Fall

Twenty-five: Points After

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

From the Publisher

In the rich tradition of Friday Night Lights comes this heart-stopping account of the first ever national championship high school football game.

They said such a game was impossible. For 131 years, a No. 1 and a No. 2 high school team had never met -- though not for lack of trying. Then came October 6, 2001: two great teams, Concord De La Salle and Long Beach Poly, playing for all the marbles. Two contrasting cities, each upholding its vision of America. One thrilling game.

On the one side we find Concord, a wealthy, high-tech suburb in Northern California. De La Salle is private, nearly all white, and Catholic, with an astonishing nine-year, 113-game winning streak -- the longest of any team in any sport in history, amateur or professional. Coach Bob Ladouceur is a legend, and a mystic who demands perfection. The Spartans thrive on year-round training and a spirit of love. Critics call them a cult.

Long Beach is a gritty, mostly poor, Southern California seaport, the most diverse city in America. Poly High sends more players to the NFL than any other school, more students to the University of California, and alums such as Cameron Diaz and Snoop Dogg to stardom. Poly High is a beacon of public school excellence. But the Jackrabbits play in a fishbowl of high expectations and often excessive community scrutiny.

On both teams the young men are tested physically, mentally, spiritually, and most of all by the intense media spotlight on their behavior, skin color, SAT scores, economic class, and moral character. Would they crumple under the pressure? Can they withstand the lure of drug and supplement abuse while fighting off the distractions of college recruiters and rabid fans?

One Great Game takes us inside the schools and their teams, into the hearts and minds of the players, coaches, teachers, parents, and followers. Don Wallace spent a full year in their locker rooms and in their lives. The result is a powerful portrait not only of American high school sports but of two cultures that taken together define modern American life.

About the Author

Don Wallace is an award-winning journalist, novelist, and editor who has written for Harper''s, The New York Times, and dozens of other publications. His honors include being named the U.S. Naval Institute''s 2002 Author of the Year for his serialized novel, The Log of Matthew Roving; a Roll of Honor selection of the 1998 Best American Essays for "While Watts Burned"; and a Michener Prize from the Copernicus Society for his 1991 novel, Hot Water. Wallace attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, U.C. Santa Cruz, and Poly High School, where he was the third generation of Wallaces to play varsity football. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

Editorial Reviews

"A behind-the-scenes look at the players and coaches...as well as a play-by-play analysis of the big game itself."

-- The New York Times

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