Somewhere between home and the football field, Christian Swain's driver's side window short-circuited. This had better not be an omen, he thought. He'd waited his whole life -- all 33 years -- to be a high school head football coach, and he didn't want his first season to be a clunker. He kept pressing the electric buttons inside his beat-up gold '99 Ford Taurus, but the window stayed stuck wide open. As he turned onto Interstate 5, the wind stung his face. Good thing it was summer.
He drove onto campus and parked next to a stadium with no stands. The school -- Roosevelt High in north Portland -- was a notorious bottom-feeder located in the poorest part of the city. It had no cheerleaders, no marching band, no press box and, as far as Swain could tell, no quarterbacks. But still three months away from opening night, the coach had reason to believe he could pull this off. He had grown up just east of campus, on the wrong side of the bridge himself -- hungry, a little nuts and searching for a better life