When the Game Stands Tall – De La Salle Football

When the Game Stands Tall, based on a 2003 book of the same title, begins with the montage of the De La Salle High School Spartans’ record setting 151 win streak and the high of winning the 2003 California State Championship. However, a series of events as the season winds down foreshadow a troubling 2004 season.

With the graduation of the seniors, juniors Tayshon Lanear, Chris Ryan, and Danny Ladouceur (the coach’s son) bicker about who will fill the leadership void as team captains on next year’s team. Head coach Bob Ladouceur receives job offers from colleges, but dismisses them without discussing the opportunities first with his wife. Lastly, De La Salle’s conference rivals complain about the unfair advantage they have in recruiting all the best players from the region, and highlight stats on the average margin of victory to back up their claim. Angered, De La Salle vows to play the 5 conference games they are required to play, then fill out the rest of the schedule with other top-ranked high school football teams from across the country.

When outgoing Senior Cameron Colvin tells Coach Ladouceur that his sick mother only has days to live, Coach visits Cam at his home. Cam begins to question his faith in Christianity and asks the coach why this would happen; how could it be in God’s plan to leave him and his younger brother alone in this world? Coach Ladouceur responds that he and his brother are not alone – they have him and 60 other brothers on the football team that love them.

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Contributing author: Alvin Nguyen

When the Game Stands Tall – Real Life, Reel Differences

  • There was no star running back in the 2004 season that approached the scoring touchdown record. Chris Ryan was “inspired by multiple people who’ve actually been in and out of De La Salle” (Hammon, 2014). In addition, neither of the coaches recalled an instance when a player got punched by his father in a parking lot (historyvshollywood.com).
  • The character Tayshon Lanear was not based on a real life player. He was created to reflect the attitude of several players on the 2004 team (Hammon, 2014).
  • Danny Ladouceur did not have a mental block that prevented him from catching balls after his father’s heart attack. Neither did he have a redeeming catch to win a game against Long Beach Polytechnic HIgh School (Stephens, 2014).
  • There was no visit to a VA Recovery Center to reinforce the team values of service and brotherhood. Assistant Coach Terry Eidson believes this scene was inspired by some of the players who visited a Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu, Hawaii during a trip for a road game in 2002 (Hayes, 2003).

  • De La Salle did not lose to Clayton Valley in the second game of the 2004 season but they lost against Clovis West High School. However, De La Salle did have a 17-17 tie game with Clayton Valley (Hammon, 2014).
  • De La Salle High School did not play against Long Beach Polytechnic High School in 2004 although they did meet in 2001 (Hammon, 2014).
  • In the movie, Chris Ryan somersaulted into the endzone to score the first touchdown against Long Beach Polytechnic. Maurice Jones-Drew actually did do that in real life (against Long Beach Polytechnic High in 2001) and was flagged for an excessive celebration penalty (Hammon, 2014).
  • There was no member of the press nor were there students actively flaunting the accomplishment and the start of a new Streak. This was looked down upon by school administration and Coach Ladouceur (Hammon, 2014).
  • In the movie, it’s TK and Cam Colvin who commit to Oregon together. In reality, there were four of them – Willie Glasper, Jackie Bates, Cameron Colvin, and Terrance Kelly. TJ Ward was going to join them a year later, in 2005.
  • In reality, the De La Salle players did march onto the field holding hands as depicted in the film. The players also did write commitment cards and read them to each other.
  • Coach Ladouceur really did have an heart-attack, but it wasn’t after visiting Cam Colvin. It was on New Year’s Eve in 2003.
  • Terrence Kelly was, in fact, shot by a kid who had a grudge from losing a basketball game, but it was a game from over a year ago, not from earlier in the day.

Where Are They Now?

Cameron Colvin played college football in Oregon as a wide receiver and was one of the leading receivers in the nation in the 2007 season despite suffering numerous injuries throughout his college career. After college, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers but was then released in the summer of 2008. He played one year in the United Football League in 2011 for the Las Vegas Locomotives. In 2008, he became the CEO of his own real estate company, Rise Above Agency (Pashelka, 2014).

Maurice Jones-Drew was a 2002 graduate of De La Salle High School. He went on to have three successful years as a running back at UCLA. In 2006, he was drafted in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been to the Pro Bowl three times (2009-2011) and was the leading rusher during the 2011 season. He announced his retirement after an injury-plagued season with the Oakland Raiders in 2015.

Danny Ladouceur played college football at San Jose State University as a wide receiver. He now works as an EMT for the Alameda County system and has followed his father’s footsteps to become an assistant coach of the freshman football team at De La Salle (Pashelka, 2014).

Coacn Bob Ladouceur retired in 2013 with 399 career wins at the age of 58. Before he started at De La Salle, the program never had a winning season. When he retired, he had coached 20 undefeated seasons and won 11 national championships from various sports media outlets (ESPN).

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