Thursday, September 24, 2009

I could have coached a better game than the guy from "Coach"

I checked my Facebook page when I got home from work last night and saw that one of my friends was watching All The Right Moves, a movie about small-town high school football filmed in my hometown of Johnstown, PA. I replied that I am in the bleachers for the big football game and that I should get out my copy of the movie, find myself, and post the screencap. That's how I wound up watching the football game scene a couple of times.

In the movie, Ampipe High School is the blue-collar, smaller team facing off against Walnut Heights High School, the bigger and stronger white-collar team. Ampipe plays tough but trails most of the game. They take a 14-10 lead late in the fourth quarter and only need to keep Walnut Heights out of the end zone with less than four minutes to play. It starts to rain and, in true movie fashion, the field turns into a muddy pit in about 30 seconds. Walnut Heights throws the ball (in the rain!), moves the chains and they get to the Ampipe 10-yard line. Walnut Heights throws for the end zone and Stefan, Tom Cruise's character, gets called for pass interference on the play. Stefan protests, but it's the most blatant pass interference call in movie history. Walnut Heights gets the ball on the 1-yard line, but somehow Ampipe's defense holds. Ampipe gets the ball back on their own 1-yard line with a few seconds left. The coach (played by Craig T. Nelson) calls for a running play but the quarterback and halfback fumble the exchange. Walnut Heights recovers the ball in the end zone for the touchdown and the 17-14 win. Later, in the locker room, Coach berates Stefan for the pass interference call, without which he claims Walnut Heights wouldn't have been in position to score. Stefan gets kicked off the team and later in the movie Lea Thompson takes her shirt off.

I'm no football expert, but I could have won that game for Ampipe. All the coach had to do was order the quarterback to run out of his own end zone for a safety. That makes the score 14-12, but Ampipe gets to free-kick the ball back to Walnut Heights. Ampipe's defense had just kept a superior team from scoring from the 1-yard line. With only a few seconds left in the game, even if Walnut Heights got the ball back at midfield they have a small chance of scoring or even getting to field goal range. Unless they throw it at Stefan, who's just going to wrap up his man for another interference call. But why try a risky running play from your own end zone with the field a wet, muddy mess? In that situation, even a swing pass from the 1 is a better call than a run. A catch or an incomplete pass run time off the clock, which is your main opponent at that point. If the QB or receiver gets tackled in the end zone, it's still a safety and it's still 14-12, Ampipe wins.

I did find a shot from the movie which may or may not have me in it. About 36 minutes in, there's a shot of the crowd in the stands with a small boy in the lower-left corner of the screen cheering his head off. He's wearing a green and brown jacket with a red and white snow cap. It might be me, but I'll have to ask my mother. I remember going to the stadium for one of the nights of filming the big game scenes. I was about nine years old and it was a cold night in October. They started with a few hundred people in the stands but as the shooting went on the crowd shrank to about a hundred or so huddled in one section. At some point my mother noticed the cameras filming people standing at the railing at field level, so she sent me down there to push my way into the shot. I stood there for a while and watched the cameras moving back and forth. They told us to look at the field, not the cameras. I don't remember being told when to cheer, so I'm not sure the kid in the shot is me. If it is, do I get my own page on IMDB?

1 comment:

Cotter said...

Either way, Dan Orlovsky would approve of your strategy!

PS - That's so cool that you got to see them film that movie! What a classic!