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Publisher's Summary

"Friday Night Lights meets Unbroken." (Tony Reali)

"One of the most profound stories you will ever read." (Ian O'Connor)

"Plaschke delivers a masterpiece." (Jeff Pearlman)

From LA Times columnist and ESPN Around the Horn panelist Bill Plaschke, a story of tragedy, triumph, and the remarkable power of high school football in one small California town.

On November 8, 2018, the Camp Fire ravaged the town of Paradise, California. The fire, which burned up to 80 acres per minute, killed 86 people, and nearly every building and home in the town was reduced to ashes. In a single day, Paradise, a proud working-class town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, saw its population fall from 25,000 to 2,000. 

The Paradise High football team had long been the town’s source of joy and inspiration. But in the wake of the fire, their season was abruptly cancelled on the eve of the playoffs. Their championship hopes were gone. Their program’s survival seemed doubtful - it wasn’t even clear whether Paradise High would continue to exist.

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. Of the 104 football players at Paradise, 95 had lost their homes. His varsity squad, which had stood 76 strong the previous season, was down to 22. Most of those who remained were homeless, sleep-deprived, lost. On the first day of spring practice, on a debris-ridden patch of grass at nearby Chico Airport, Prinz’s team didn’t even have a football. It was the humble beginning to a memorable journey.

Bill Plaschke, longtime columnist for the Los Angeles Times, followed the Paradise Bobcats throughout a most remarkable season. In this gripping, deeply reported story of tragedy and resilience, Plaschke reveals the unique power of sports to unite, to inspire, and to heal. As the Paradise players fought to rebuild their broken lives, they found strength in the support of their teammates - and as football returned to Paradise, so, too, did the spirit of the town itself.

©2021 Bill Plaschke (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Paradise Found

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Inspiring

Amazing what these talented players and coaches accomplished! I grew up in Paradise, graduated from PHS in 1985, worked at Pinocchio's restaurant, went to the football games every Friday night and I understand the CMF Bobcat Pride. I have lived out of state ever since I graduated but returned home several times a year because my family is there and Paradise is in your blood. Once a Bobcat always a Bobcat!

I have family and dear friends that lost their homes. My childhood home that I was raised in, and family lived in for 44 years, was lost. Thankfully we had sold the home 4 years before the fire, when my 84 year old mom passed, or I would have been worried sick about her making it down the mountain safely along with the brave people of Paradise. My brother made did make it out safely.

I grew up happy, strong, and blessed in the unique culture of Paradise. In 2019, I listened to those football games from my home in Utah. Principal Ervin's wife is a friend and she kept us updated us through social media. I felt the Bobcat Pride and loved every minute of it. Thank you for ride, for the inspiration you all gave us, the dedication you showed to each other, and to the town of Paradise. Most of all thank you for being men through all the adversity. God bless you all!

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Amazing Story

Great story of loss, perseverance and the power of sports. Highly recommended listen for everyone, not just football fans

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Something every player and coach should read

Paradise is less than 100 miles from where I live.
The story grabs you and sucks you in and is such an inspirational read for anyone in teaching, coaching, a student or parents. The sacrifices those kids made to go to the top, the coaches, who led them there, and the personal losses they encountered are things movies are made of.
It was our Yellowjackets that the Bobcats played their first game against and I know it was a soul stirring, gut wrenching and proud moment for all of us.
Read it and give it as a gift. The most inspirational read in a very long time. You won’t regret it.