Football Team Treated to New Football Movie Days Ahead of National Release
MONTROSE — The message from the silver screen was clear, “it’s about the man next to you,” but sadly there are two men missing this season as the Montrose High School football team takes to the field for its 2014 campaign.
Last Saturday members of the Montrose football program were treated to a private screening of the soon-to-be-released movie When the Game Stands Tall, the true story of the California high school football team, De La Salle, who lost their 151-game winning streak and teammate, only to pull together with love and win it all.
As the team sipped soda, ate popcorn and fumbled through boxes of candy there were two empty seats, one for 15-year-old Garret Middleton, who died in April in a farming accident, and the other for 17-year-old Grayson Burris who drowned in June, saving a friend in Escalante Canyon.
Middleton would have been playing on the junior varsity team this fall and Burris would have been a senior.
Because the movie was a true story about a football team, a death, and the pressure and reality of growing up, members of the MHS team were able to draw some comparisons.
“It wasn’t so much about our team,” head coach Todd Casebeir said. “It was about the families of those young men.”
The unexpected loss of two teammates just 48 days apart earlier this year brought the Montrose community to its knees, helped through the ordeal by hugs, tears and prayer.
“He’s still out there with us; he’s still on the field with us, and he always will be,” said Mike Rocha, a team captain, of his friend Burris.
The movie officially hits screens nationwide this Friday. James TenNapel whose son plays for MHS, had a connection to Sony Pictures through his brother Doug.
After consulting with Sony, San Juan Cinemas agreed to host the screening with tight security. Friday evening the players were surprised by Casebeir with the news that, after finishing practice Saturday morning, the team would head to the theater.
“You guys know what has happened; we know what’s happened. There are some kids not here,” TenNapel told the audience, before the movie started.
The screening and concessions were paid for by an anonymous private donor.
“It’s was a really good team bonding experience, for sure,” said quarterback Kameron DeVincentis, a senior captain. “It inspires us through thick and thin, through everything that comes our way we stick together as a team, we stay together.
The team was stung by last year’s loss in the state 4A championship in Denver. Since the loss, the Indians have developed a real taste for post-season play, with their goal now to win their first state title in over 60 years.
Through adversity and loss many of the players said Saturday Burris and Middleton will be under the Friday lights with them this season.
The Indians begin the season with the number two ranking in 4A. The varsity team opens its season at home Friday against rival Grand Junction. Game time is 7 p.m.