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In Dillon, Texas, football isn’t just the name of the game. It’s a way of life. And if you’re Eric Taylor, new head coach of Dillon High School’s Panthers, your focus is on one thing: winning. In season 1, Coach is tasked with creating a championship team — state rings are the jewelry of choice in Dillon — after star QB Jason is paralyzed in the first game of the season. Along the way, we’re introduced to the juicy Jason/Lyla/Tim love triangle, as well as Matt, who loves both Julie and his scene-stealing grandmother. By the end of the year, the Panthers win state, but more important, as Tim says, they make some memories.
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Most Valuable Episode, Season 1: “Pilot”
The pilot pulls you into this world and makes sure you’ll never want to leave.
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Before Coach returns from a brief stint in Austin at TMU, Tami raises baby Gracie Belle alone — a job that’s only made more difficult by Julie. (She has a serious attitude and a thing for Swedish guys.) The real drama, however, comes courtesy of a murder that brings Landry closer to Tyra. (Translation: They date.) Elsewhere, Lyla finds God, Tim and Jason go to Mexico, and Smash gets into a fight that costs him his college scholarship. But the biggest loss is a shortened season due to the 2007–08 writers’ strike, just as Jason asks new love, Erin, to keep the baby.
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Most Valuable Episode, Season 2: “There Goes the Neighborhood”
In this memorable hour, Tim moves in with the Taylors and plays ping-pong at 5 a.m. with Coach.
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The season of goodbyes starts with a recap of how season 2 would’ve ended if not for the writers’ strike — Smash injured his knee! Tami’s the principal! Lyla and Tim are together! — before we meet new QB J.D. McCoy. After a few rehab sessions, Smash finds his place at Texas A&M. That farewell is followed by another: Riggins sees Jason move to NYC to follow the woman he loves, their son, and his dreams of being a sports agent. Back in Texas, the Panthers kiss the state championship goodbye before Tyra, Tim, and Lyla leave for college, and Coach heads to the East Dillon Lions after being replaced at Dillon.
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Most Valuable Episode, Season 3: “Underdogs”
The Panthers lose state (and the drama’s just as good as when they win).
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Welcome to the East Dillon football program, a.k.a. Coach making something out of nothing. Luckily, he’s introduced to players Vince and Luke, and together the Lions go from forfeiting their first game to ending the season by defeating the Panthers. (Landry kicks the winning field goal!) Elsewhere, Tami finds herself in hot water when Becky asks her advice and ends up getting an abortion, Matt moves to Chicago, Tyra’s sister Mindy has a baby, and Tim puts his “no regrets” motto aside to make the ultimate sacrifice — he takes the fall for Billy’s chop shop, landing himself in prison.
8 of 10
Most Valuable Episode, Season 4: “The Son”
Everyone unites for Matt’s dad’s memorial (and Zach Gilford’s winning performance).
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Julie’s off to college (she sleeps with a married TA), Becky moves in with Billy and Mindy, Tami heads up the counseling program at East Dillon, and Vince deals with his relationship with Jess and his father’s release from prison. As the series concludes, Tim gets out of prison, and everyone returns home for the holidays. Matt proposes to Julie (She says yes! Coach says no!), Tyra reconnects with Tim, the East Dillon Lions win state, and Coach puts his wife first as they move to Philadelphia for Tami’s college-dean job. Meanwhile, the Riggins brothers build Tim his dream house. Because...Texas forever.
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Most Valuable Episode, Season 5: “Always”
It’s the series finale every show strives for but very few achieve.