Go Tigers! shows us the ways that football gives meaning to a town and to the players. It tells them who they are and encourages them to work to achieve excellence. It?s not a bad lesson to learn that those things which give us meaning require attention and work to accomplish.
Review by Darrel Manson


This page was created on October 10, 2001
This page was last updated on
May 21, 2005


Directed by Kenneth A. Carlson
Written by Kenneth A. Carlson

Dave Irwin .... Quarterback
Ellery Moore .... Defensive End
Danny Studer .... Linebacker

Produced by Kenneth A. Carlson (producer), Todd Robinson (executive producer), Sidney Sherman (producer)
Original music by Randy Miller
Cinematography by Curt Apduhan
Film Editing by Jeff Werner

MPAA: Rated R for language and a scene of teen drinking.
Runtime: USA:103

Massillon Ohio:
Where they live, breathe and eat football.

Click to enlargeIn the blue collar Ohio town of Massillon, the most important thing is high school football, and the frenzy around home team the Tigers is, as one resident observes, like "a cult... a religion." Shot on high-definition video, former Massillon resident Kenneth Carlson's documentary follows the three stars of the 1999 team, co-captains Ellery Moore, Dave Irwin, and linebacker Danny Studer, as they deal with problems like personal injuries and the pressures of their economically depressed town's high expectations. As the Tigers lurch ahead through a winning 106th season, Massillon's school system is challenged by bankruptcy, threatening teachers, education, even the team itself.

With its subject a town so obsessed with the sport that it is traditional to award a little football to each newborn male, this documentary could have been a comic indictment of the "athletics over education" fervor of small town U.S.A. Instead it works as both a tribute to American spirit and an anthropological document of the colorful ceremonies and celebrations of the people of Massillon. Carlson doesn't shy away from criticism of his subject, but still manages to transcend a "warts and all" documentary approach to achieve a portrait of Americana that is exciting and inspirational.

Review By

Pastor, Artesia Christian
Church ICQ 5624184
Artesia, CA http://netministries.org/see/churches/ch01198
Click to enlargeIt?s been over thirty years since I played high school football and more than 20 since I officiated high school football. In many, many ways, Go Tigers! took me back to the fields and locker rooms that have been a part of my life. The coaches? pep talks are the same. The player rants are the same. The parties are the same.
I like football. Playing football taught me many lessons that have stayed with me though life. And like most lessons we learn, some are of value, and some need to be unlearned.
Click to enlargeGo Tigers! is a documentary film looking at the 1999 Massillon, Ohio, Tigers football team. Massillon is about football. It is one of the towns that was a part of founding of the National Football League and football still is a key part of the identity for this blue collar city. So central is football to this city that each newborn boy born in Massillon is visited by the booster club and brought a little Tigers football in anticipation for when he plays for Massilon.
Click to enlargeGo Tigers! focuses on the three captains of the ?99 team: Quarterback Dave Irwin, Linebacker Danny Studer, and Defensive End Ellery Moore. As the film develops we learn how they came to be where they are. Irwin and Studer were red shirted -- held back in 8th grade to have an extra year of age and maturity for playing football. Moore came to football after spending over a year in jail for rape. Football is for all of them the road that will take them to a better future.
Click to enlargeThere is what might best be categorized at jock spirituality throughout the film. (I don?t mean that in a demeaning way. I know many athletes have deep spiritual lives.) That spirituality grows out of looking for a divine presence in what we understand as important. And I know that when in high school I dressed for a game, it was among the most important times of my life. I craved that spirituality myself at those times. I still do, although its form may have changed.
As I watched, I could remember the way that football taught me about pride and loyalty. And football is bringing valuable lessons on life to Massillon's players still.
Click to enlargeBut the film also shows us something of the costs of football. As the football season is underway, so too is the campaign for a tax increase for the schools. Click to enlargeThe last few years, when Massillon had losing seasons, the issues failed. It will take the team winning and restoring pride in the schools to get the issue passed on Election Day. Certainly there are more issues involved than football in tax issues, but we see overcrowded elementary classes while we also see a huge state of the art stadium for football.
Click to enlargeGo Tigers! shows us the ways that football gives meaning to a town and to the players. It tells them who they are and encourages them to work to achieve excellence. It?s not a bad lesson to learn that those things which give us meaning require attention and work to accomplish. The players, coaches and community care deeply about football, and they dedicate themselves to that goal.
Click to enlargeI remember that when I was a high school football player so long ago, among my favorite scriptures was "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13b-14) In many ways that continues to be a part of my life and theology, just as football will always be a part of who I am.
Click to enlargeWatching the Massilon team of Go Tigers! I know that their experience will be a part of their life always. I hope the lessons they are learning will help them find other things of meaning as well, and that they will press toward the call with the same passion as they had for football.

Go Tigers! ? 2001 Samuel Goldwyn Films (IDP). All Rights Reserved.