“When the Game Stands Tall” is based on the real-life story of the De La Salle High School Spartans football team, which had the longest winning streak of any team in any sport at any level 151 games in a row over twelve years. The movie is based on what happened at the end of the streak, when one of their star players was killed and their coach, Bob Ladouceur (played by Jim Caviezel in the film) has to bring them back together. Ladouceur said that their first bus ride of the season was to their teammate’s funeral. They lost the next game.
The film is based on the book by Neil Hayes, with a foreword by John Madden about Coach Ladouceur and his team. When people asked the coach how he was able to produce these results, game after game, year after year, he would say, “Spend a year with us.” Hayes took him up on it, and that is what produced the book and then the film. Another book, One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever National Championship High School Football Game, by Don Wallace, tells the story of the championship game between the Catholic private school De La Salle and public school Long Beach Poly, .
Here is the real Bob Ladouceur.
And here are the Spartans.
Spartans who later became professional athletes:
T.J. Ward, safety for the Denver Broncos
Maurice Jones-Drew, halfback for Oakland Raiders.
Amani Toomer, wide receiver for New York Giants
Kevin Simon, linebacker for Washington D.C. football team
Matt Gutierrez, former quarterback in the National Football League
D. J. Williams, outside linebacker for the Chicago Bears
Doug Brien, kicker with San Francisco 49ers
David Loverne, guard with New York Jets
Derek Landri, defensive tackle with Philadelphia Eagles
Stephen Wondolowski, pro soccer player
Chris Wondolowski, pro soccer player
Stefan Frei, pro soccer player
John David Baker, pro baseball player
Chris Carter, pro baseball player
Jon Barry, pro basketball player
Brent Barry, pro basketball player
Kristian Ipsen, Olympic diver, bronze medalist
Aaron Taylor, former offensive lineman for Green Bay Packers