Sam Davis, the smartest kid in town, was a pretty good football player who played for an exceptional coach on a great high school team. But no one is good enough to justify what a rival team did to him, in the name of winning. The best player Sam ever saw hit him out of bounds, ending a promising career and changing his life. Sam later discovers that Coach Fred Hawkins had each of his players put a dollar in the pot and whoever put him out of the game got the money.
Twenty years later, Sam comes to teach English at the rival high school, where Coach Hawkins's latest star is the son of Sam's nemesis and the girl he loved in high school. The town questions his motives for coming, but Sam quickly gains a reputation for fairness and teaching skill, and he wins the heart of his old flame's best friend. However, as the school year progresses, a past no one else understands catches up with all of them and Sam must finally decide whether winning is truly the only thing.