MSG Varsity will premiere its first original documentary production on Sept. 4 with a look at a famous football family in the Garden State and the recruitment of its youngest son, a top college quarterback prospect.
Cablevision's high school sports service will televise the first of a two-part documentary, New Jersey's Last Patriot, centering on the recruiting journey of Wayne Hills High School Patriots quarterback Kevin Olsen, as well as his off-season training regimen and aspects of his school life.
Debuting at 9 p.m. (ET), the 80-minute film, narrated by MSG Varsity's doyenne of high school sports Mike Quick, goes well beyond Olsen's visits to South Carolina, Auburn, Wisconsin and Miami and his verbal commitment to the Hurricanes. The network's Steve Levy, former Don Bosco Prep and University of California Berkeley quarterback, accompanied Olsen on his recruiting trips, as well as his participation in the ESPN's Elite 11 program for high-level prospects.
MSG Varsity senior vice president and executive producer Michael Lardner says the story has a number of captivating elements, including some real-life Hollywood touches and the multigenerational, pigskin prowess of the Olsen clan.
"It's not just about a top high-school quarterback and what it's like to be recruited by Division I schools," said Lardner, who also served as executive producer on the documentary.
Indeed, the Olsen family has been a fixture in the Wayne Hills community for years as Kevin's father Chris, is the longtime coach at the high school. His older brother Christian also played QB there, before being recruited by Notre Dame and playing the position at the University of Virginia. Middle brother Greg, meanwhile, went to The U and is currently a tight end on the National Football League's Carolina Panthers.
"There is a strong media department at Wayne Hill High School, with a library of historical footage of the brothers playing at the school," said Lardner. "A lot of the elements for a good documentary were in place there."
The backdrop for the film, which was screened before some 200 people from the community at a Cablevision-owned Clearview Cinemas theater last week, also includes a brawl last fall that resulted in a number of players being suspended before the state championship game, in which Kevin and his remaining Patriots teammates prevailed in the waning moments. There also was community questioning about whether the kids should have been allowed to play before all facts were vetted by Coach Olsen, who was also the school's athletic director at the time. He no longer holds that title, but will coach his son this season in what will be both their final year at Wayne Hills High.
Vignettes from the New Jersey's Last Patriot can be screened at www.msgvarsity.com/footballfiles.
The second part of the documentary following Olsen's senior season at Wayne Hills this fall is expected to hit MSG Varsity's air sometime before Christmas, according to Lardner.
He says MSG Varsity is assessing other potential documentary projects, including one orbiting around a top high school basketball player in New Jersey.