By Doug Halberstadt
“Undefeated” is a word that conjures images of success, triumph, greatness and perfection.
It is also the title of the Academy Award-winning film for Best Documentary Feature. The movie is directed by Rockford native Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin. The soundtrack is composed by two other Rockfordians, Miles Nielsen and Daniel McMahon.
The Oscar-winning film tells the story of three high school football players and their coach battling everything evil that life has to offer. The three of them are from North Memphis and live in the inner city among crime, poverty, drugs and broken homes. Their coach is from the other side of town, a world away to these kids.
They play for the Manassas High School Tigers, a team that is woefully bad and hasn’t won a playoff game in its 110-year history. They are coached by volunteer businessman Bill Courtney. He has accepted the challenge of helping turn this team and, more importantly, these young men around.
Courtney took over the program in 2004, and things soon began to improve. He brought with him a set of values that he tried to instill in his players. The movie centers on the 2009 football season. The year looks as if it’s going to be the best season in Tigers football history. Expectations of making the playoffs and breaking the 110-year-old jinx are high.
After losing their first game of the year, the team begins to come together under Courtney and the leadership of the three main characters. The star player is O.C., a senior who is big, powerful and amazingly quick for such a big guy. He’s got the on-field skills to obtain a college scholarship, but his struggles come in the classroom. He’s trying to balance improving his ACT scores with the demands of his team.
Also playing his last season is an undersized offensive lineman Montrail, known to all as “Money.” He’s focused on obtaining an academic scholarship to help him achieve more out of life.
Chavis is the third side of the triangle that makes up the nucleus of this team. He is a hot-headed junior who has just returned from 15 months in a juvenile detention center. He presents Coach Courtney with an entirely new set of issues to deal with.
This documentary provides an in-depth look at what having character and being a part of something bigger than oneself is all about. I strongly urge everyone to see the film Undefeated. You’ll walk away feeling triumph, success, greatness and perfection.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the May 30-June 5, 2012, issue