Meet the St. Francis Academy Panthers, the best high school football team you’ve probably never heard of. They were so good that they were kicked out of their top-flight high school league. In the trailer for the HBO docuseries, “The Cost of Winning,” which spotlights the team, you can see that there’s much more to the story.
The Panthers won three consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships before being expelled from their league in 2018, which led to accusations of racial bias. In the trailer, it is noted that the other schools in the MIAA were predominantly white (St. Francis is known as one of the oldest African-American catholic schools in the country). That led the team to crafting its own schedule. Despite the setback, Panthers seniors ultimately received scholarship offers from some of the top collegiate programs in the country, including LSU, Alabama and Clemson.
Watch the trailer above.
The series will air over two nights on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11. It is co-directed by Rob Ford (“Shut Up and Dribble,” “You Ain’t Got These,” “Stephen vs. The Game”) and Maurice Holden (“Tiger at 30”). Michael Strahan is an executive producer.
Here’s the full description of the series from HBO:
In 2018, a nearly 200-year-old Catholic school, located in the heart of a neighborhood rife with gun violence and grinding socioeconomic challenges, became a source of both immense pride and then searing controversy as the school’s football team, the Panthers, were expelled from their private school league for being “too good” – a turn of events that raised questions of racial bias. Finding themselves without a league in which to play, the team made its own schedule, barnstorming the country in search of top competition and the chance to showcase its players as they strove for athletic scholarships.
Over the course of four half-hour episodes, THE COST OF WINNING follows the outspoken head coach Biff Poggi, along with highly touted recruits Demon Clowney, Chris Braswell and Jonathan Wallace, among others, as they pursue a national championship and a path to college for their 30 graduating seniors. The series takes viewers behind the scenes with the players and coaching staff of St. Francis Academy as they navigate and overcome challenges ranging from not having their own practice facilities to the relentless horrors of street violence in their Baltimore neighborhood.
“The Cost of Winning” is produced by The Story Lab in association with SMAC Entertainment and Valley View Media. Additional executive producers are Constance Schwartz-Morini and Ethan Lewis for SMAC Entertainment; Mike Ferry for The Story Lab; and Maurice Holden for Valley View Media. The series was produced in partnership with Gillette Productions.