... grim and gripping ... One strength of this book is its 'unfiltered' treatment of highly charged racial themes, and candor is critical ... this engrossing book is not really about football. It’s about how caring, committed adults can make a huge difference in the lives of young people, especially Black males who are threatened every day with psychological and physical turmoil.
Babb isn’t interested in delivering a play-by-play analysis of Edna Karr High School’s 2019 season. More significantly, he offers well-rounded portraits of the personalities involved with the team: the coaches, players, fans, and the city as a whole ... A penetrating, wide-screen story of what it means to mentor under the toughest of circumstances.
... has the earmarks of cliché: a tough but kindhearted coach forges a motley group of players from a violent urban community into one of the most successful football units in the state. In less capable hands, it might indeed rely on cliché. But, instead, Washington Post sportswriter Babb draws full-blooded portraits of head coach Brice Brown, his assistants, the team’s principal players, and a neighborhood so riven by gun violence that tragedy is almost to be expected. Babb also details the sheer force of will and thought Coach Brown brought to his players to win the state 4A football title, the team’s fourth in a row.