Trojans assistant coach anxious for release
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EL DORADO HILLS — Kevin Lopina is going to see himself portrayed on the movie screen.
The Oak Ridge High assistant football coach, who works with tight ends and linebackers, is one of many people who is being portrayed in the movie “When The Game Stands Tall” that is being released in movie theaters Friday. Regal El Dorado Hills Stadium 14 in El Dorado Hills and Regal Placerville Stadium 8 are showing the movie.
Oak Ridge head coach Eric Cavaliere, along with Lopina, Trojan assistant coaches and the squad, have reserved a theater at Stadium 14 on Saturday night for them to view the movie.
“I think it’s great that Coach Cavaliere put this together,” Lopina said.
The movie is about former De La Salle High football coach Bob Ladouceur, and the Spartans’ 151-game winning streak that ended in 2004 during Lopina’s senior year. The movie shows how the Concord all-boys private high school bounced back after a teammate was killed, and Ladouceur recovered from a heart attack. Ladouceur retired as head coach after the 2012 season, which ended with the Spartans winning the CIF Open Division state title.
“I started hearing about (the movie) toward the end of last season,” Lopina said. “I’m excited.”
Lopina was a three-year varsity starter for the Spartans from 2002 to 2004. After seeing limited time as a sophomore, he quarterbacked the first seven games of the 2003 season as a junior. The Spartans went 13-0, but Lopina injured his knee, which sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Lopina returned for the 2004 season that saw the Spartans’ famed winning streak stopped when Bellevue (Wash.) posted a 39-20 win in the first game of the season. De La Salle lost its second consecutive game, this time to Fresno-area powerhouse Clovis West, 30-12, and tied Palma of Salinas, 7-7, to start the season with an 0-2-1 record. But the Spartans won seven of their last eight games that included their 13th consecutive North Coast Section Division I title.
Lopina hopes that the theme of the movie comes across as the Spartans’ program was, and still is, a fraternity of players molding together as brothers.
“I really hope that they get the story right,” Lopina said. “It’s not about the wins, or the big games. It’s about how we got to where we were, and the hard work and ethic that we went through. Those are the main points that I hope that they really (got). I just hope that they portrayed it the way I lived it.”
The 27-year-old Lopina described some of the lessons taught at De La Salle that carry over after a young man graduates from the high school.
“How to be a good person,” Lopina said. “Not take anything for granted. Learn a really close brotherhood aspect. The biggest thing Coach Ladouceur taught, ‘just don’t play for yourself.'”
After he graduated from De La Salle, Lopina played football at Kansas State and Washington State. In 2010, Lopina graduated from the latter four-year college with a bachelor’s degree in history.
He is currently working toward his teaching credentials. Lopina is working as a substitute teacher in the El Dorado Union High School District, and hopes to land a teaching job at Oak Ridge next year.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.