Publish date:

Friday Night Right?

The NBC drama series Friday Night Lights, debuting on Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT, follows a fictional high school football team in Texas. How realistic is the show? SI asked players, a coach and a cheerleader at Mansfield Summit High in Arlington to break it down
Author:

Mike Arneel, QB(backup)

Age
17

Class
Senior

Ht./Wt.
5'10", 155

Grade forTV
QB: B+

Overall grade:A

ON TARGET"Both the quarterbacks were like us, pretty much on the same scale. Theirbackup does the same routine as we do, and the portrayal of how littleattention the coaches give the backup was very accurate. We [also] have thestar quarterback who gets all the media attention. They got West Texas footballdead-on: No matter how bad that team was, the stadium was filled."

OFF BASE "Howdramatic all the players' lives are, like showing up to practice afterdrinking. They make it too much of a soap opera."

Princess AdetutuOgunbanwo, Cheerleader

Age
17

Class
Senior

Grade for TVcheerleader: B

Overall grade:A

ON TARGET"Most of the stuff was real. They seemed to really be into the games likewe are, and we sometimes make stuff for the football players [as the rallygirls do in the show]. Last year we had football buddies. We made them candybaskets and baked things for them."

OFF BASE "Thehead cheerleader is always with the star player. That's not how it works. Also,with the rally girl, [the way she approached the quarterback] wasn't true. Wedon't go up to players and say we'll give them whatever they want."

Stephen Johnston,RB

Age
17

Class
Senior
Ht./Wt. 5'11", 200

Grade for TV RB:B

Overall grade:B

ON TARGET"The things they went through with losing their star player. When theirquarterback gets hurt, everyone was trying to step up, even the running back.That's how it is. Somebody has to step up when your leader gets hurt. Also,Texas high school football has a lot of pressure, and they showed thatwell."

OFF BASE"Some of the hits really seem acted, like when the quarterback hit thatguy, it looked kind of fake. On some other hits they looked like they just fellover. When you get hit, you keep going and try not to go down."

Terry Smith,Coach

Age
40

Tenure
5 years

Grade for TVcoach: B+

Overall grade:C+

ON TARGET"There is pressure to win, [and] we put more pressure on ourselves thananyone else. While I've never personally felt like I was going to be firedbecause we lost a game, I do know that it happens [as it did in theshow]."

OFF BASE "Itwas way oversimplified that the head coach is the only one involved. In reallife he oversees things more. It's the assistant coaches who work so closelywith the kids. Also, most coaches realize what they need to do before theirwives tell them."

NEWS & NOTES

No. 1--ranked Hoover (Ala.) High lost at home 28--14to No. 12 John Curtis (River Ridge, La.) last Friday night--the school's firsthome loss since September 2002. Curtis (4--0) held Hoover (5--1) to just 41passing yards and Patriots' running back Joe McKnight had 204 all-purpose yardsand intercepted a pass at safety.... Bellevue High (Wash.) football coach ButchGoncharoff, who has won four state titles in five years, was paid $55,000 lastyear by boosters. On Sept. 8 the coach was cleared of any wrongdoing after asix-month investigation into alleged recruiting violations .... Ten years afterreceiving a liver transplant, retired DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) basketballcoach Morgan Wooten (below), 75, will receive a kidney from his son, Joe, 33,the coach at Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.).... Oscoda Area High (Mich.)canceled the last five games of its football season. The team was 0--4 and hadnot scored a point.

FOUR PHOTOS

SHARON ELLMAN

FOUR PHOTOS

PAUL DRINKWATER/NBC PHOTO

PHOTO

MANNY MILLAN

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