SOUTHLAKE -- Isaiah Else was just one of almost 400 football players who auditioned Tuesday at Dragon Stadium for the chance to be in the movie One Heart.The way Else sees it, if he makes it through callbacks today and into the movie, he won't be acting.Else was the quarterback for the Gainesville State School Tornadoes on the Friday night in November 2008 when they visited the Grapevine Faith Christian Lions for what looked like nothing more than the final game of a winless season.Instead, when fans from Faith gave the players from the maximum-security prison/school a run-through banner and a spirit line, and then sat on their sideline and cheered for them by name throughout the game, a story began that is scheduled to make its way to the big screen in fall 2013.Else relives the game often, and that's why he joined the hopefuls at Dragon Stadium who were put through a 40-yard dash and an agility drill by movie producers and former Dallas Cowboys Marc Colombo and Willie Pile."I want to show them how that game really works -- how it affects you," said Else, who now lives and works in Dallas and plays quarterback with a semipro team."I can relive the whole moment, how it felt to play the game, the actual feeling from the fans and how we reacted to it. It won't be acting."The two schools' game is now an annual event called the One Heart Bowl.The feelings that came out of that game are what appealed to One Heart director Mark Ellis.About 21/2 years ago, Ellis put out word that he wanted to direct a feel-good faith-based sports movie. But he also wanted one that "naturally took place."One Heart came across his desk."When I read the script and heard about the story, I just couldn't believe it," he said. "The name of the school is 'Faith.' Are you kidding me? As Hollywood writers, you can't write this story because they would think we made it up."More than 750 people registered to audition as football players. About 130 made it through Tuesday's cuts to today's callback.One Heart producer Steve Riach, founder and CEO of Colleyville-based Eterné Films, said that by the end of this week, about 80 will have earned roles. One or two might land speaking roles, he said. Then comes a nine-day football minicamp to prepare them for game-action shots.Shooting is scheduled to begin Oct. 5 in the area, including on the Grapevine Faith campus, at Dragon Stadium and at least two other area football stadiums. Filming should wrap before Thanksgiving, Riach said.'A moving story'Else was one of at least 10 former Gainesville State and Faith football players who auditioned Tuesday, including some who have played against each other. But the tryouts also drew people from across the country and with playing experience all the way up into the NFL.Eighteen-year-old Dion Kearney of Newark, N.J., was inspired by the story of the Gainesville State-Faith game. He watched a video story for the movie countless times."I could really relate to it -- it's a moving story," Kearney said.Kearney, a former high school football player with modeling/acting aspirations, told his grandmother about the auditions and she dug into her savings to buy a plane ticket for him. He made it to Southlake on Saturday evening, on the eve of Sunday's pre-audition interviews, and walked from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Southlake. He didn't have enough money for a motel room, so Kearney slept outside on the ground Saturday night.When his story began to circulate Sunday, he was introduced to Texas hospitality when people stepped forward to put him up in a hotel and buy his meals. When he developed pinkeye, he was put in contact with a doctor who treated him for free and got him the medication he needed.When he made it through Tuesday's cuts, he couldn't wait to get to a phone to call his grandmother.Finding inspirationJordan Delegal, who also made it to today's callback, came from Miami because he saw similarities in his story and the stories of Gainesville State players.His father played on the University of Miami's first national championship football team, in 1983, but his mother and his father died when he was 16 months old. He was raised by a grandmother, and an uncle and later his high school football coach served as male role models.Delegal credits football with teaching him life lessons that he never would have learned off the field."Coming up through high school, I battled a lot of emotional things," he said. "I was angry at a lot of people."Delegal actually quit football in high school."But my coach didn't quit on me," he said.He returned to football and signed with North Carolina State but didn't qualify academically. He went to Marshall, got into an off-campus fight and left. He then played in junior college before signing to play linebacker at Northern Illinois. Last December, he became the first in his family to graduate from college.When he saw the story about the first Gainesville State-Faith game a few months ago, Delegal, 24, said, he connected with the perseverance of the Gainesville State players."It's hard to go through a situation like those guys at Gainesville have," he said. "For one, having to look at yourself and think about how important this is to play football and knowing that that's your outlet from your current situation. It's just like with myself, because football has been my outlet for a lot of things in my life."Delegal still hopes to catch on with a professional team, but for now becoming another story within the One Heart story that has inspired him would be meaningful."It touched me," he said, "and I definitely want to be a part of it."
Fifth One Heart Bowl
Who: Gainesville State School vs. Grapevine Faith Christian
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Grapevine Ford Lincoln Field on the Faith campus, 730 Cannon St.
Tickets: $5 for adults; $3 for seniors and students
Notable: Fans wishing to be part of the Gainesville State pregame spirit tunnel are advised to be inside the stadium at least 15 minutes before game time. This year's collection for Gainesville State students is new sneakers, adult sizes 8-14. Shoes may be brought to the game or dropped off at Grapevine Faith during the week.