Fire on the Mountain meets Friday Night Lights in this tragic and hopeful story of the destruction of Paradise, California, by raging wildfires and its resurrection through the heart and grit of their local high school football team, by L.A. Times columnist and ESPN Around the Horn panelist Bill Plaschke.
On November 8, 2018, a hellish fire ravaged the town of Paradise, CA, killing eighty-six people as its residents fled and reducing its population from 25,000 to 2,000 in a single day, ranking it as the deadliest and most devastating fire in California history.
The Paradise High football team has long been a source of pride and inspiration in this small town often derided for being the home of hillbillies. But in the wake of the fire, the team was left devastated--physically and emotionally--and seemingly beyond repair. Their season was abruptly cancelled on the eve of the playoffs. Their championship hopes were gone. Their program's mere survival was in doubt.
Coach Rick Prinz had planned to retire that year after guiding the Paradise High Bobcats for two decades. But after the fire forever altered his beloved town, he realized he couldn't walk away. What ensued was the challenge of a lifetime. When spring arrived and training season began, the team, once made up of a seventy-six-man varsity roster, had been reduced to thirty-six players. Most were homeless, sleep-deprived, lost. On the first day of practice on a debris-ridden patch of grass at the school's temporary Chico Airport home, the team didn't even have a football. It was the humble beginning to a memorable journey.
L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke followed Coach Prinz and the rest of the team in a rise from the ashes highlighted by an unbeaten 2019 regular season and unbelievable playoff run. In the process, he has documented something remarkable: as football has returned to Paradise, so has the spirit of the town itself.
Paradise Found is a comeback story like no other. It's about courage, resurrection forged from rubble, and the spirit of hope in a small town in America.