The Post's Tarik El-Bashir and Judith Evans went with players and coaches from two area football teams to see the new release "Friday Night Lights" last weekend. The movie is based on H.G. Bissinger's book documenting the 1988 football season at Permian High in Odessa, Tex. It deals with the players' and coaches' relationships with their community, their families and each other in a small, football-crazy town.
Here are some of the players' and coaches' impressions:
Q. What did you think when you saw the size of the stadiums and the number of fans the Texas teams had?
A. We've experienced it when we've gone to play games out of town. The crowds are huge and it certainly helps motivate people to play. Even when we're out of town, and the crowd isn't cheering for us, its a great experience to play in front of so many people.
-- Justin Hamilton, Theodore Roosevelt senior wide receiver-quarterback
Q. Did you relate to the pressure the fans in the movie put on the Permian players and team?
A. There's always pressure from the community. Everyone wants a winning team. But I've never had somebody pull up in their car and say, 'Hey coach, you better win'. I've never had a 'For Sale' sign put in my yard, but maybe that's because no one knows where I live. . . . In Herndon, you grow up looking up to the players on the team. Now, you just want to do better than they did.
-- Tommy Meier, Herndon head coach
A. People [in Herndon] want us to win. You can see how much they care when you go to the parade before homecoming. The whole town is there. Herndon is a big school, but sometimes it feels like it's in a small town.
-- Colby Campbell, Herndon senior offensive lineman
Q. Comment on the pressure some of the parents in the movie put on their football-playing sons.
A. I see that all the time. You do see parents want it more than their kids do.
-- Tommy Meier
A. It's not right to put that kind of pressure on your kid. It's their life not yours. You learn from your mistakes, that's what high school is all about.
-- Colby Campbell
Q. Was the movie an accurate portrayal of what you go through, from training camp to postseason?
[Spoiler alert: This answer reveals a key plot point]
A. The intensity was pretty accurate. I don't know if we bleed that much. But I can relate to a lot of what they were going through. I kind of liked the ending, when they didn't make the last few inches. I wasn't expecting that. They always win in the movie. But that ending was like real life, because even though you try hard, you don't always win."
-- Marcus Blaha, Herndon senior fullback-linebacker
Q. Did you relate to the feelings the senior players experienced at the end of the season?
It's stressful because at the end of the season, you don't know if you're going to be playing somewhere the next year. It makes me want to play my hardest. I've been playing since I was young. If I didn't play football, I don't know what I would be doing. I want to play next year.
-- Jamal Gilmore, Theodore Roosevelt senior quarterback-wide receiver-cornerback
Q. What did you take away from the movie?
A. The one thing I learned is that you've got to be a team, win or lose. It wasn't just about winning. It was about being a part of a team."
-- Justin Hamilton