The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

High school football squad fights for wins in game, life

The Manassas High School Tigers, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, have not been to the playoffs in the school’s 110-year history.
Photo courtesy Weinstein Company
The Manassas High School Tigers, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, have not been to the playoffs in the school’s 110-year history. Photo courtesy Weinstein Company

By Kelli Henderson/entertainment editor

There’s nothing more Southern than high school football — and praying. Undefeated, the Oscar-winning documentary, shows just that. This film captures the trials and tribulations of a determined coach and his inner-city Manassas High School football team in the heart of north Memphis, Tenn.

After the Firestone plant closed down, so did that part of town. On every street, there are boarded windows in abandoned homes. Trash is everywhere, and citizens wander the streets.

The Manassas High School Tigers, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, have not been to the playoffs in the school’s 110-year history.
Photo courtesy Weinstein Company

Bill Courtney is in his sixth year as volunteer coach for the deprived Tigers. In the school’s 110-year history, the football team has never made it to the playoffs. Courtney wants to change that.

In the Tennessee heat and trash-laden fields, the documentary starts out with the team practicing. As the film continues, it shows an inside look into not only the frustrations of football but of the personal lives of a few of the players.

O.C., a 300-pound left tackle, struggles with academics. Montrail “Money” Brown, right tackle, struggles to find money for college, and Chavis Daniels, a junior who spent his sophomore year in juvenile detention, has anger issues.

As the team rises and falls through the season, so do these boys personally. Life is unpredictable. Things happen to these boys that only life can hand them.

Courtney is a mentor and makeshift father to the team. His strengths are football and motivation. Any time a team member puts his head down in shame or even hesitates, he is there with a slap on the back and words of encouragement. He wants what is best for the boys. He wants them to succeed after high school and football.

The boys themselves are anything but the stereotypical inner-city kids. When they talk to the camera one-on-one, they share analogies and insight to the real world and life that an old man who has lived a full and hard life could think of and mean. These boys look up to Courtney and respect him. When he talks, they truly stop and listen.

The team also prays. A lot. They pray when they lose, they pray when they win. They pray when a teammate is down on his luck or when one is doing great. They pray, they pray and pray some more.

Undefeated won an Oscar for best documentary, and the audience will see why. It is the epitome of a Southern underdog story. The team comes, sees and conquers in its own way.

 

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