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Must Win: A Season of Survival for a Town…
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Must Win: A Season of Survival for a Town and Its Team

by Drew Jubera

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Even if you don't like football, which I definitely do not, you can enjoy Jubera's book on a small Southern town and its football team. Written in the vein of Friday Night Lights, this book is also down South, this time in Valdosta, GA. The book deals with the Wildcats, a legendary team that has more wins than any other team in the US. After two long reigns of demi-god coaches, the team starts to crumble as the school goes through a number of coaches in rapid succession while losing many talented players to the county school.
Through Jubera's writing, we get to know many of the players well. A majority of the players are poor and black, and as the reader might imagine, they lead rough lives. Unfortunately, playing on this high school team may be the highlight of their lives. The coach is a likable, moral good ol' boy (I mean this as a compliment in this case) completely devoted to his job. The coach is so devoted, I began to wonder how long his marriage can last with as many hours as he puts in year round.
This book is as much the sociology of a small, Southern town as it is a sports book, and as a result can easily be enjoyed by a non-football fan. Some of the issues the book tackles, are white flight and the resulting segregation of school, poverty and violence, and what elements make community. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a solid sports book or a person interested in the South. ( )
  cblaker | Jul 28, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312642202, Hardcover)

Nestled amid cotton, pine and swamps, the Deep South outpost of Valdosta, Georgia has long drawn pilgrims from across the country to the home of the winningest high school football team in America. Christened by national media “Title Town, USA,” Valdosta has thrived on the continuity of dominance: sons still play in front of fathers and grandfathers, creased men in pickups still offer steak dinners as reward for gridiron glory, and Friday nights in the 11,000 seat stadium known as Death Valley still hold a central role in the town’s social fabric.

Now that place is in peril. As much as Valdosta is a romantic symbol of traditional American values, things are changing here just as they are in small towns everywhere. In Must Win, author Drew Jubera goes inside the country’s most famous football team to chronicle its dramatic 2010 season, a quest by a program that’s down but not out to regain past glory for both the team and the town it represents. This town, this school and these people have been rocked by forces that have hit the entire country, but they’re a long way from giving up. They still believe in the power of a game to overcome all.

With a new coach, a new optimism, and a kaleidoscopic cast that includes an aspiring rapper, a bee keeper’s son, the best athlete in the state, and heir to a pro legacy cut short by a crack dealer’s bullet, these Wildcats have been given one more chance. Must Win is the American story written across a bright, green playing field.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:11 -0400)

"The inspiring tale of how a coach with a grand vision and even bigger heart plucked his players out of jail and off the farm and made them believe they were champions as they returned Valdosta to its rightful place as one of the most storied programs in high school football.… (more)

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