De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
football coach Bob Ladouceur may have stepped down, but his story and the plight of the Spartans is just getting started.
At least on the silver screen.
Production of "When the Game Stands Tall" got underway Monday in New Orleans. The film will star Jim Caviezel, who will play legendary coach Ladouceur, the man who stepped down in January after racking up a remarkable 399-25-3 record including the famed 151-game win streak from 1993 to 2004.
Caviezel played golfer Bobby Jones in the movie "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" and Jesus Christ in "The Passion of Christ."
The movie is based on the fantastic book by the same title written by then-Contra Costa Times and now Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Hayes.
The movie also stars Academy Award-nominated actress Laura Dern and Michael Chiklis, who starred in TV shows "The Commish," "The Shield," and "Vegas." The director is Thomas Carter, whose previous works include "Coach Carter" and "Don King: Only in America."
Chiklis will play longtime defensive coordinator Terry Eidson.
"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," said producer David Zelon. "Underneath it is a resounding testimonial about how much more kids can achieve when they are challenged with responsibility and commitment."
I must admit, this is all rather surreal to me.
My first season covering high school sports in the San Francisco Bay Area was the De La Salle beat. I really got a sense it was special back then and I had always hoped Ladouceur's messages would get to the masses.
But never, ever did I anticipate a Hollywood production. We saw Caviezel in what turned out to be Ladouceur's final game as head coach, a 48-28 win over Centennial
for his team's fourth straight CIF Bowl Open Division title in December. Caviezel was on the De La Salle sideline, evidently taking cues.
A couple weeks later, Ladouceur stepped down
but figures to still be on the sidelines on Friday nights.
New head coach and longtime assistant Justin Alumbaugh won't be looking over his shoulder. The two are extremely close and Alumbaugh sits right across the desk from Ladouceur.
The new transition should be seamless. We figure they'll attend the film premiere together, which is scheduled for fall of 2014.
Better not open on a Friday.