There's trouble in town when it is announced that the white high school and the black high school are going to be integrated into one school, called T.C. Williams. And it's not just the white people who are upset. The colored people are just as upset. And to the football teams from each school, the integration process means not all of them will start. Coach Bill Yoast, the head coach from the white school, assures his players that everything will be fine, but then he discovers that he will not be head coach anymore, which upsets his daughter Sheryl (who is crazy about football) to no end. The new head coach is black, a man by the name of Herman Boone. Because Coach Boone knows what it's like to have his job taken away from him, he offers the position of assistant head coach to Coach Yoast. He finally agrees to coach as long as he will be able to coach defensively and his assistant coach from before, Coach Tyrell, is able to coach the special teams.
So off to training camp they go. From the start, there is noticeable tension between the boys. First, the white boys sit on one bus, and the black boys sit on another. Coach Boone quickly solves this problem by dividing the teams by offense and defense. And he makes the boys sit together. Then he announces that they person they are sitting next to will be their roommate. When they get to camp, Julius Campbell, a black player, and Gerry Bertier, the defensive captain, and the only All-American on the team, start things off nicely with a fight over what Julius can put up on his wall. Soon the entire team is fighting.
But this camp is not just about the boys learning to deal with each other, so to speak, it is above all training for the football season. And there is plenty of football going on. Coach Boone, although Coach Yoast objects, pushes the boys to the limit with grueling two-a-days. The boys are certainly learning good football, but they are not getting to know each other at all. Coach Boone tells them that until they get to know a teammate of the opposite race, they will go to three-a-day practices. After a few days of that, the boys begin to talk to each other, even if only to learn the facts. The only person who seems to get along with anybody and everybody is Lewis Lastik, a heavy-set military kid who seems to be color-blind in that aspect. But as the players talk and joke with each other, they begin to bond as a group and become good friends. Ronnie Bass joins the group a little while after camp has started, and, because of his long blond hair and California hippie way of dressing, is dubbed as a "fruitcake". Sunshine, as Petey dubs him, doesn't like that and proves that he does have a good arm as a quarterback, and that he isn't any fruitcake.
The boys return from camp as good friends, but when they begin school, they realize that they are the only ones who have bonded. Racial tension is as high as ever with school starting and there are angry parents and students that fill the neighborhoods and schools. But they remain loyal to their friends as best they can. However, Coach Boone is informed before the first game that if he causes any trouble, such as lose a game, the board will fire him and replace him with Yoast.
And so the season begins. The team never loses a game and Boone never loses his head coach position. Along the way, Yoast and Boone become friends, as well as their daughters, even though Sheryl is still obsessed with football. But when Coach Tyrell finds out about their friendship, he quits the team and leaves Yoast and Boone to coach.
The rest of the story will come soon....!