By Tom Barnidge Contra Costa Times Columnist
August 16, 2014
(Center L-R) Michael Chiklis as Terry Eidson and Jim Caviezel as Bob Ladouceur in 'When the Game Stands Tall.' (Tracy Bennett/Sony Pictures)
The story of the De La Salle High School football program that will flash across movie screens this week -- "When the Game Stands Tall" -- is wrapped around an unprecedented 151-game winning streak that the Catholic boys school in Concord assembled from 1992 to 2004.
The streak was built across 12 perfect seasons, including 32 playoff games, during which De La Salle outscored opponents 7,092-1,323 (average score: 47-9) and was five times ranked the No. 1 high school team in the nation by USA Today.
The program has barely blinked in the 10 years since -- a 126-12-2 record, with 10 North Coast Section titles and five state championships. Last season, the Spartans' first in 35 years without coach Bob Ladouceur at the helm, they were 14-1 and state runners-up under Justin Alumbaugh, who once played for Ladouceur.
How does this happen -- in the East Bay, of all places -- at a private school with barely 1,000 students?
Let's begin at the beginning, with the basics any football fan will recognize -- grueling practices and endless repetition of fundamentals.
"It's basic, it's the minutiae, and it's very boring," said quarterbacks/running backs coach Mark Panella. "It's the mechanics and fundamentals. We go over and over and over and over them, day in and day out. It's monotonous."
Panella played on Ladouceur's first two North Coast Section champions, and he said the fundamentals have always been pounded into players.
Then there's the unrelenting emphasis on conditioning, from the weight room to the torturous drills, in which sweat-soaked players are expected to run full out while dragging car tires across practice fields when they're not pounding on blocking sleds. Players put in anywhere from 16 to 17 hours a week in practice, film sessions and conditioning.
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