Canyon City, in southern Idaho, is the home of Canyon State College, a small school in possession of a large football coach-Ben Steinbrecher, a man as strong as Samson and just as rooted in the Bible through his minister father.
Known to some as "the Leather Man," the coach is doing his best to raise his mentally handicapped son in a loving home while the love in his marriage dwindles. Already kept from an NFL career by a knee injury, Steinbrecher's frustrations pile up while his coaching career blossoms until, inevitably, he hits the brink of human endurance.
The coach's team is peopled with characters such as Latin-quoting war hero Quintus LeClaire, dropped into Canyon State's football program because of a Vietnam flashback and a chance encounter with a good cop, along with straight arrow David Talty, raised by colorful Uncle Joe; menacing Brock Banning; and Preston "Taters" Jones. All play a role in elevating the program and in shaping Steinbrecher's path toward the ultimate test of his beliefs and his will to live.