Rivalry goes Nashville

June 25, 2009 

CHOWCHILLA -- It goes down as the longest 10 seconds in the storied rivalry between the Chowchilla and Dos Palos football programs.

One play.

Twenty yards.

Four freakin' hours.

When the buzzer finally sounded and the scoreboard flashed one last time at Henry Massaro Stadium, Cinderella's pumpkin had already begun to spoil.

Nashville wouldn't rest until it had captured the perfect shot.

The money shot.

The pylon splash.

Directors, producers, cameramen and film hands converged on the city of Chowchilla on Monday evening, stoking the flames in this football-crazed town.

Under the leadership of director Shaun Silva, a local boy with a growing resume in the music industry, one of the Valley's signature rivalries was immortalized on film.

Country style, with a Nashville twinge on a Hollywood clock.

"It was an interesting and fun experience, I'll put it that way," Chowchilla coach John Henson said. "The Redskins aren't used to working on Hollywood time. We were there past midnight.

"There was a lot of standing around, waiting for equipment and directors -- all the things you read about Hollywood in the papers.

"Only we experienced it up close and personal."

Why all the hub-bub?

As the story goes, Silva was hired to orchestrate Brooks and Dunn's newest video, "Indian Summer."

The premise for the sure-to-be summer smash was ripped from the annals of Romeo and Juliet:

Two star-crossed lovers, opposed only by the colors they wear, history and the towns they call home, share a summer romance.

One is a star quarterback at Chowchilla, Jake, a run-and-gun type not unlike Valley champion Robby Diepersloot.

And the other, Stacy, a rah-rah cheerleader from a planet on the far side of the universe -- Dos Palos.

Both roles were played by actors cast out of Los Angeles, but the supporting cast was filled with tried-and-true local high schoolers, coaches and fans.

Silva couldn't resist his own country, down-home roots.

After filming spots of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn in Tennessee, he brought the production back to the West Coast. Back to the Central Valley. Back to Chowchilla.

Silva went to grade school in Chowchilla and his father, Bob, owns Bob Silva Ford.

His cousin, Jason Vonalman, is a coach and teacher at Dos Palos.

The stars aligned for this tale of star-crossed lovers.

Call it fate.

"The story takes place in the Midwest and has a small-town feel," Silva said from an undisclosed location, filming the final scene for the video. "When most people think of California, they think L.A. or San Francisco.

"They don't realize that I came from an area that's full of small, agriculture towns. The San Joaquin Valley is ripe for production, especially country music videos.

"I felt with my connections to Dos Palos and Chowchilla, it made sense. It felt right."

One things is certain: The hundreds of red-clad fans who turned up on Monday appreciated Brooks and Dunn's vision for the shoot.

Four hours of taping culminated in one 10-second clip. A heart-stopping, glory shot for the home side.

"Jake" settled under center at the Dos Palos 20-yard line with time for one play.

Dos Palos led, 10-7.

Henson called for "Boot Left," a play-action pass -- the same play that won a Week 4 game against Yosemite.

The hope was to sell the defense on a fake handoff to running back Garrett Slate and then target tight-ends Matt Umphenour and Terrance Olivia running drag routes across the field.

The play, of course, never materialized, forcing "Jake" to don a hero's cape.

"It was super epic," said Slate, who served as the stunt double for "Jake" and delivered most of the scenes high-risk moves.

"It was just like all the football games you see in the movies. ... Sick."

Feeling pressure, "Jake" reversed course. He picked up a big block from Slate on the right edge and broke for the corner of the end zone.


Buzzer sounds.

Crowd erupts.

Chowchilla gets the win.

"Jake" gets the girl.

And Dos Palos is stuck with the heartache.

"We'll take that scenario any time," Henson said with a coy laugh.

Dos Palos coach Mike Sparks hoped for different, Silva said, requesting a rewrite of the initial script.

Losing to your bitter rival stinks like week-old gym socks -- even if the outcome is sprinkled with make-believe movie magic.

"I reminded him that on this night we're all actors and we're all assuming roles," Silva said.

"When they get their chance to go head-to-head in a real league game, they can determine their own ending."

But you can't undo what's been caught on camera.

Because of Brooks and Dunn, and their director, the nation will remember Chowchilla as the team that stole the win and Dos Palos' prettiest girl, too.

"They got to rehearse the winning play over and over again. They got to see their sidelines jumping up and down, people running out onto the field," Sparks said.

"We might have to show them this tape couple of times before we play again. ... Bring it up, so they remember what happened."

If Brooks and Dunn have their way, it's hard to imagine anyone will forget that night.

Or that Indian Summer.

James Burns is sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at jburns@mercedsun-star.com.>>

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