By Jimmy Oliver
1.) Remember the Titans (2000): You couldn't pick a better set of coaches for the time at T.C. Williams High. Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) and Bill Yoast (Will Patton) set the tone during a racially charged time and gelled their team into a true community of one. This is simply the greatest high school football movie for both it’s message and it’s lifelike football action depicted on screen. You will be hard-pressed to find a more inspirational film than this one. And from Petey to Sunshine and to Gerry and Julius, the characters come to life and stick with you forever.
2.) All the Right Moves (1983): There was the steel mill and football; that was life for the residents of this dying small Pennsylvania town, but there had to be a way out to doing something bigger and better. This was one of those movies from my childhood that I simply loved and still do to this day. The message struck me to the core concerning the struggle to become something more.
3.) Friday Night Lights (2004): I remember reading this book when it was first released and absolutely enjoyed it. I had high hopes for the movie version and it even exceeded my expectations. For those who haven't had the opportunity to see it, Friday Night Lights offers a realistic look at high school football in Texas and just how significant the sport has an impact on not just the players and coaches, but families as well. After seeing the movie and then visiting some schools in Texas last year in our nationwide tour, I understood exactly just how important football really is. If you are not from Texas and have never been to a top-notch matchups between two Longhorn State powerhouses, definitely see the movie.
4.) Radio (2003): To me, this one was less of a football movie and more of a story about how the kindness of one man could make such a giant difference in someone’s life, and I loved how it was based on a true story. Cuba Gooding Jr. was brilliant in the role of Radio and Ed Harris (Coach Jones) was the man who cared. Radio brought out the best in everyone associated with him. The best line in the movie had to have been: “It’s never a mistake to care for someone”.
5.) Wildcats (1986): This was an enjoyable comedy about a woman who coached an inner city high school football program that was in need of a lot of help. There were so many great moments in this movie, but Nipsy Russell as the principal was brilliant when she was trying to sell the last of the peanut brittle. That was truly priceless. Goldie Hawn was cast perfectly for this role and made the movie a joy to watch. I especially loved the rap (early rap) at the end of the movie.
6.) Varsity Blues (1999): While this was certainly an entertaining movie, it also took high school football to the extreme. Case in point, when was the last time any of us in high school spent time at a strip joint? Pleeeeeeease. Perhaps many wished they did, but come on. Make no mistake though, this was very entertaining movie. From Tweeder’s questionable infection to Billy Bob drinking maple syrup from the bottle, there are dozens of memorable scenes.
7.) The Best of Times (1986): Another 80s classic makes the list. Starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, both of their characters attempt to relive their failed high school football rivalry game 25 years later. Williams is superb in the role of the clumsy wide receiver trying to convince a town that they should replay the big game. This was a fun movie that looks at how lives have changed, or perhaps haven't, since the glory days of high school.
8.) School Ties (1992): Not that Brendan Fraser is one of my favorite actors, but this movie exemplified how discrimination played a factor in the lives of young men at an elite private school in New England. Fraser, as David Green, struggles to keep his religion secret and then later be accepted. Matt Damon can also be found here in one of his earlier roles, offering a glimpse of his potential in the years to come. Regardless of Fraser's role as the star quarterback of the football team, he still finds jealous and manipulative students that attempt to get in his way.
9.) Gridiron Gang (2006): This was truly an inspirational story about some tough kids that eventually learn life lessons through football. The story concerned a coach with a heart of gold and how he was able to use high school athletics to prepare young men for life, especially in a rough neighborhood plagued by drugs and shootings. Gridiron Gang was based on a true story and I would surely be interested in meeting some of these young men today.
10.) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982): Okay, if we were just talking about the all-time great movies, this one would be in my top three. However, because there was so little football featured here, it slides to No. 10 in the poll. The number of one-liners in this one is countless. Charles Jefferson was a monster in this movie as well, even though he was a fan of Earth, Wind and Fire. It’s truly a classic, even in terms of high school football.
Got any ideas for future Top 10 features? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner at email@example.com.