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 Wildcats, the winningest high school football team in America. Christened by national media as "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 a 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 high school 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 beekeeper's son, the best athlete in the state, and the 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.