In 1971, a court order forces three high schools in Alexandra, Virginia (two white, one African-American), to integrate their student bodies and faculties for the first time. As a result, Coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton), longtime head coach of the T.C. Williams High School football team, is asked to step down, and Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) is appointed to replace him as the school's first black faculty member. The new coach is hardly welcomed with open arms, either by the school's staff or the students, and the newly integrated team is full of players (both black and white) who have little trust or respect for one another. But Boone is determined to put a winning team on the field -- it's how he approaches the game, and his future depends on it. Against long odds, Boone helps his team overcome distrust and misunderstanding of their coach (and each other) as they become a gridiron force to be reckoned with.