Touchback (film)

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Directed by Don Handfield
Written by Don Handfield
Starring Brian Presley
Melanie Lynskey
Marc Blucas
Kurt Russell
Christine Lahti
Music by William Ross
Cinematography David Morrison
Edited by Ryan Eaton
Freedom Films
Emmett/Furla Films
Distributed by

Anchor Bay Films

Bliss Media (China)
Release date
  • April 13, 2012 (2012-04-13)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $204,232[1]

Touchback is a 2012 film written and directed by Don Handfield. It stars Brian Presley, Melanie Lynskey and Kurt Russell. Reviews were mixed and it currently has a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 13 reviews.[2]


The setting begins with the introduction of Scott Murphy, former high school football hero. An injury he received during the Ohio State High School Championship game terminated his scholarship to Ohio State and his dreams of a professional career in football. It's been twenty years since that game and Scott still resides with his family in the quiet town of Coldwater, Ohio. He has a splinted leg and has been a farmer since high school. Rather than marrying the head cheerleader, Scott marries and has two daughters with a clarinet-playing band member named Macey. Difficulties with a compromised harvest and bank obligations have caused strain on his farm, which he is in jeopardy of losing. With bad luck around every corner, Scott is not mentally prepared for the game in which he will be honored (in a halftime ceremony), and the return of his good friend Hall who made the NFL and married Scott's old high school girlfriend only adds to the depression he is feeling. An early frost and a broken soybean header bring Scott to the brink. His wife, Macey, suggests that they could pick the soybeans by hand in order to bring them to market. Scott finds this far-fetched since there are 200 acres to combine (harvest). He decides to kill himself via CO poisoning in his truck, at least his wife and two girls will receive the life insurance bonus – which is another mistake since a suicide death will not activate a life insurance payout. As he passes out, Scott wakes up back in 1991, on the eve of the big game.

Scott embraces his return, as he is able to spend time with his hard-working mother. One last recruiting meeting with scouts from OSU enlightens Scott as the scout admits the game will be hard, and that if he so chooses, sitting out will not impact his invitation to joining the quarterback unit at OSU. Scott introduces himself to Macey and tries to share with her what is happening with him. With the championship game upon him, he informs Coach Hand (played by Kurt Russell) that he will not play in the big game which will undo the events which have directly led to his pain and misery. Coach offers a speech about the merits of the people of Coldwater. Coach even shares with Scott how he receives a job offer from OSU annually, only to turn it down out of respect for Coldwater, and the people who make the town so special. As Scott lives through the events leading up to the game, he decides he will play, and in doing so he exhibits an incredible talent on the field. While Scott's efforts on the field keep the game close, Coach Hand encourages him to share the ball with his teammates. In the second half, Scott mixes it up a bit and with "the play" imminent, Scott tells his coach he will not run the pitch-fake which ultimately causes his leg to be broken. Coach smiles and suggests a passing play, but informs Scott that based upon the Chief's defensive formation, he can call an audible as necessary, that it is his decision.

As Scott prepares to call for the hike, he looks over at his girlfriend, then looks out into the band bleachers, where he sees Macey. The clock runs down and Scott calls an audible, a running play where he maneuvers himself close enough to jump into the end zone. As he crosses, Scott is hammered by two defensive players, and his leg is shattered at the knee. Coldwater wins the Ohio State High School Championship game over the heavily favored Chiefs. Scott demonstrated that he is an intensely talented football player, as he basically; for the most part single handedly, beat a high school team that had eight players on defense already signed to NCAA Division I scholarships.

Back in Scott's beaten up pick-up truck, he awakes and realize it was just a dream and sees that he ran out of gas. This cuts off the ability for CO to sustain. Scott escapes death. As he walks to town, he sees it is desolate—even the football field is absent any people or players. As he makes a turn for his farm, he sees his soybean field crowded with all the citizens of Coldwater. They heard about his hardship, his need for his crops to make it to market, and the people of Coldwater have stepped up to return the favor ... in honor of the great Scott Murphy, the exceptional quarterback who gave Coldwater the 1991 Ohio State High School Championship. Scott decide to stop complaining about his life and he is happy about what he has and never regret it. He also decides to be an assistant coach to his old mentor coach. He also reunited with his wife and his two kids.



Filming took place during July and August 2010. The primary filming location was Coopersville, Michigan at the Coopersville High School football stadium. Additional filming occurred in Grand Rapids, Ravenna Township and River View High School in Warsaw, Ohio.[3] One scene was also filmed in Ohio Stadium on October 23, 2010 during an Ohio State football game.[4] Touchback marked the first time Ohio Stadium had been shown in a major motion picture.

The film had limited distribution and disappointing box office sales. Distributed domestically by Anchor Bay and in China by Bliss Media. [5]


  1. ^ "'Touchback' (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Serba, John (11 April 2012). "'Touchback,' the West Michigan movie starring Kurt Russell, to be celebrated with local opening-night party". MLive. Michigan Live LLC. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Billing, Bryant (19 April 2012). "'Touchback,' strikes chord with Ohio football fans". Top Billing Sports. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Handfield, Don (2012-04-13), Touchback, retrieved 2016-03-18 

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