God. Family. Football. Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
The football players of Evangel Christian Academy don’t call Denny Duron “coach.” They call him “Pastor Denny.” Those around the state of Louisiana might just call him a legend.
During his tenure as Evangel’s head football coach, Pastor Denny led the Eagles to 29 district championships, 14 state championships and a national title (in 1999). The team once won 60 games in a row.
Pastor Denny stepped away from the game for a couple of years, and the Eagles responded by losing. In 2020, Evangel didn’t win a game. Now, Pastor Denny’s back, and he’s hoping to bring back the program’s winning ways. But he wants to do more than that. Sure, football’s important. But faith? That, he knows, is where the real victory is found.
Freevee’s docudrama God. Family. Football. takes us into one of high school sports’ most storied programs. Football, not faith, is the skeleton on which this reality show is built.
The cameras start running before the 2022 season, with players practicing in the heat and assistant coach Fabian Carter giving them a generous 90-second popsicle break. The show ends when the Eagles’ season does. And the central overriding tension through it all—at least superficially—is simple: Will Evangel return to not just prominence, but dominance? Will Pastor Denny stick another state championship trophy on the school’s mantel?
But the show, true to its title—and true, apparently, to Pastor Denny’s ethos—is about more than just runs and passes, X’s and O’s. It’s about the young men under his care. What they learn. How they grow. How they deal with their inevitable struggles and challenges and doubts, on the football field and off.
We’re introduced to twin brothers Peyton and Parker Fulghum (the team’s junior quarterback and star wide receiver, respectively). The boys’ father, Josh Booty, was an Evangel legend; coming out of high school, he was recruited ahead of future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning.
But Peyton Fulgham is quick to point out that his dad was AWOL for 12 years, and the boy never once threw the football with him. Peyton Fulghum, too, has NFL ambitions, but he says, “If [my dad] ever tries to take the credit, I’ll be very quick to correct him.”
Defensive end Gabe Reliford has NFL aspirations, too—spearheaded (or perhaps hampered) by his ambitious, critical father. Pastor Denny encourages Gabe’s goals, too, but he does so more gently. “You will get there,” the coach says. “Sometimes God just has to work it out.”
And we meet plenty of other kids as well—kids who just love playing football and love spending time with their friends. Haden “Toad” Perry rocks a mullet, drives an ancient F-150 and brags that “these guys are going to be a good band of brothers.” Backup QB Rodrigo Ro Ballesteros is told that the correct pronunciation of banana pudding in Louisiana is “banana puddin’.” Offensive and defensive lineman Jacob Carpenter has another goal beyond a state championship: He wants to get the giant, motorized Evangel helmet cart “up and running” before he graduates. And that helmet cart just might be a metaphor for the school’s football program itself.
The show is indeed about family, too—a football family. Pastor Denny is trying to turn these players into more than teammates: He wants to make them brothers. “It’s tough to beat a really great team,” he says. “But it’s almost impossible to beat a really great family.”
As for God? He’s everywhere here. Pastor Denny tells us the school was launched by his mother, Frances, in 1980 for “kids who might not [otherwise] have a future.” The school put God at its core and—at least according to the show—that commitment hasn’t wavered. The team practices in late-summer heat wearing “To God Be the Glory” shirts. A sign reading “Jesus above all” hangs above the weight room. Practices and games begin and end with prayer.
“I think the biggest part about us right now is this [Tuesday morning] Bible study,” says lineman Jacob Carpenter. “Going in that at 7 o’clock in the morning, 60 of us guys in that little room in there, just talking about the Lord.”
Sometimes that spiritual sincerity can feel just a little off or perhaps slightly misplaced. “We put our faith in Pastor Danny,” Carpenter says. Pastor Denny himself, of course, would remind the lineman to put his faith in someone higher.
But overall, God. Family. Football. isn’t interested in questioning or minimizing team members’ faith or its role in how the team operates. The show—which includes NFL quarterback and outspoken Christian Russell Wilson as an executive producer—treats that faith seriously and with sincerity.
God. Family. Football. Does come with a handful of issues. Football is a violent game, and we see hard collisions and injuries. Guys wear bathing suits around pools and hang out with their girlfriends. And occasionally a mild swear word or two squeaks out during practice.
But overall, God. Family. Football. gives us a compelling show that treats its subjects fairly and with affection. And while we root for the Evangel Eagles for success on the gridiron, the show reminds us that real success is found outside the stadium—and that win or lose, God is always with them.n Pastor Denny Duron returns to coach Evangel Christian Academy’s football team, and the Eagles play their first game.
Pastor Denny begins the season in prayer, opening with a petition to “Father God” and ending it “in Jesus’ name.” “We have a God who makes us unified, makes us strong,” he says. “And when you love each other and you’re a family, you’re going to do great things.”
Reminders of the school’s Christian foundation—a foundation that the players buy into—are everywhere, from T-shirts reminding players “To God be the Glory” to signs in the school itself. One player has the name “Jesus” dangling from his truck’s rearview mirror. The home of a couple of players (Peyton and Parker Fulghum) has its living room festooned with several crosses. And in a Tuesday morning Bible study, the athletes don’t just pray, they kneel on the ground and press their foreheads to the floor. “They belong to You,” Pastor Denny prays, referring to the players gathered. “Every one of them.”
Pastor Denny talks about how God spoke to him about using football to bring people closer to Christ. He tells his team that “faith without works is dead,” referencing James 2:26 as well as their hard work in practice and the hard work it takes to win a game.
We meet Sara Fulghum, Peyton and Parker’s mother. She serves as something of a team mother, and the family’s home becomes a de facto hangout for the team. Peyton talks about the values Sara instilled in them. “Our mom always told us it’s not about how important you are,” Peyton says. “It’s about how important you make other people feel.”
Someone utters the word “d–n.” Shirtless guys hang out by the pool. Pastor Denny asks a couple of players whether they have dates for homecoming. He also threatens to replace someone on the team if he doesn’t practice harder. (“If I am easy on these boys, they’ll lose,” he says.) We hear that Peyton and Parker’s father wasn’t particularly attentive.