Category: Documentary, Sports

Client: Potentially, ESPN, Esquire, NFL Channel, Netflix, Amazon

Date: 2018

During the steel boom of the early twentieth century, J&L Steel built one of the largest mills in the world in Aliquippa. Aliquippa helped to build the nations’ cities and bridges, its’ aircraft carriers and battleships. The town flourished and the population grew to over 27,000 people – a melting pot of families from eastern and southern Europe and the Jim Crow south. The mill offered families a chance at a better life and a bright future. But, in the 1980’s the steel industry declined, the mill closed, and out of the ashes poverty, crime and drugs grew like weeds.

While the town itself began to crumble and the population dwindled (9,000 live there today), one component remained steadfast – the Aliquippa High School Football Team. Aliquippa boasts Hall of Fame players Mike Ditka and Tony Dorsett as well as future Hall-of-Famers Ty Law and Darrelle Revis, plus numerous collegiate, NFL and CFL stars. The tiny enclave claims five NFL first round draft choices, no small feat for a town that graduates less than fifty boys in each class. The Fighting Quips have dominated the gridiron in Western Pennsylvania winning 16 Western Pennsylvania titles. Football is a sanctuary for youngsters searching for a way out, as well as the ties that bind a blighted community. Unfortunately, drugs and violence in Aliquippa are as prevalent as a Quips win on a Friday night.

From a gangland slaying of a police officer, to a drug deal gone bad that left two out of town high school students dead at the hands of a pair or Quip players, the street and the gridiron hold equal sway over teens searching for a way out. This season Aliquippa starts a new era as 1987 star quarterback Mike Warfield takes over for legendary coach Mike Zmijanac. Warfield will be the first African American head coach in Aliquippa history.