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Countdown to Kickoff: Enough with the movie, how is the real De La Salle football team looking this year?

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If you’ve watched much TV over the last couple months, you’ve seen plenty of the De La Salle football team coached by Jim Caviezel and Michael Chiklis. You can find out Friday what happens to the movie version of the Spartans. That’s the release date for “When the Game Stands Tall,” a Hollywood film based on the end of the Spartans’ 151-game winning streak and the 2004 season.

Q: But what about the De La Salle football team coached by Justin Alumbaugh, Terry Eidson, Bob Ladouceur and company? How does the 2014 version of the Spartans look? Are they feeling more scrutanized with the movie coming out? And can they win another Open Division state championship?

A: De La Salle had a 40-game winning streak going when it lost to St. John Bosco 20-14 in last year’s Open Division state championship game. By many accounts, that SJB team was the best to come out of SoCal in the last 10 years, if not ever.
But the loss has stuck with the Spartans and they’ve used it to fuel them in the offseason.
“It drives us every single day,” senior Simba Short said of the loss. “We’re always thinking about it.”
“Sometimes I think things get taken for granted around here,” Eidson said. “It’s just human nature to do that. There were a lot of reasons why things ended the way they did last year and I think the players from last year know what those reasons are. Ending your senior season with a loss is not a lot of fun, it kind of stays with you, so those guys want to rectify that this year.”
De La Salle lost some super talent to graduation — Sumner Houston, Larry Allen III, Kevin Griffin, John Velasco, Das Tautalatasi, Larry Ross, to name a few. Then DT Kahlil McKenzie, considered one of the top lineman recruits in the country, transfered to Clayton Valley Charter at the end of the school year. But the Spartans always lose key players and keep on rolling the next year. Don’t expect that to change.
Eidson also said this year’s team has more depth and more team speed.
For more on who is coming back and the challenging schedule ahead, check out the team preview here.
And about the added pressure with the team in the spotlight thanks to the movie — they do feel it a little bit.
“We’re a lot more well-known than before and that just adds a new type of pressure that we’re willing to respond to,” said Short, who was wearing DLS apparel in Chicago when he was asked abut the movie earlier this summer. “I could tell you that it really doesn’t affect us, but that would be a lie. It’s definitely added pressure.”
Is it a discraction?
“Sure it’s a distraction, but it’s not a bad distraction,” Alumbaugh said. “There are a lot worse things than having a movie about your high school. Distractions happen, so it’s something we’ll have to deal with but certainly something we can handle.”
As for the last of the original questions above, it’s wayyyy to early to predict who will be facing who the weekend before Christmas and how that match up will play out. But obviously the Spartans have an unparalled track record when it comes to the state championships. And they’ve never lost two years in a row.
Cal-Hi Sports ranks St. John Bosco No. 1 and DLS No. 2 in its preseason top 50.
Getting back to Carson may be a little tougher than before, though. The NorCal Open Division final could be DLS vs. Folsom for a third straight year.
Jake Browning, Folsom’s record-setting QB, is back for his senior season and early reports indicate this could be the Bulldogs’ best team yet.

By the way, if you want to read more of our coverage on the movie, check out this special section.

Stephanie Hammon