FOREVER TO GO
An 84 Phoenix Production
Facing a terminal illness, a small-town football coach leads an underdog team to the state championship in a game that—win or lose—will change all of their lives forever.
Fourth Down, Forever to Go is the moving true story of small-town Texas football coach Ken Little, who inspires all—win or lose—to be their best both on and off the field. But as his underdog team is fighting their way to the State Championship, Ken is diagnosed with a terminal illness that has him fighting for his very life—a life that wasn’t measured on the scoreboard, but by a legacy of mentorship, social change and a family he loved.
Passionate football coach who stands up for what is right, even when it is unpopular
Ken Little was more than a coach. He was a father, a husband, a teacher, a friend and a fierce competitor who respected any athlete with the courage to enter the arena. He had the same passion for teaching ninth grade chemistry as he did for coaching football, with a career spanning nearly four decades across six schools, primarily in East Texas, USA. In 2009, Ken was diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 Prostate Cancer. The following year, he helped coach the Henderson Lions to the Division I, Class 3A State Championship at Cowboys Stadium in his final game.
On January 10, 2012, Ken Little passed away. Fourth Down, Forever to Go is his legacy.
District coach of the year: 1982, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010
Area coach of the year: 2006
East Texas Officials Association Sportsmanship Plaque Recipient
Tom Landry Award: 2007 finalist
Ken Little was an inspiration on and off the field. His words and his actions impacted the lives of countless individuals—including his family, friends, fellow coaches and players he guided on their journey to greatness. Some have gone on to careers in the NFL, while others followed his example to become passionate community leaders.
Andree Thompson is an East Texas native who trained under Coach Little as a student athlete at Big Sandy High School. Years later, Andree was hired to Ken’s coaching staff, where he contributed to many successful seasons.
Labradford “Del” Barnes
Del was the starting quarterback for the 2010 Henderson Lions. Despite a broken left arm and no practice in the week leading up to the championship game against Chapel Hill, he led his team to a 28-21 victory, completing 18 of 23 passes for 149 yards and two touchdown passes. Although he played offense, Del had a tremendous respect for Ken and the passion he brought to the team.
The Henderson Lions
2010 Texas State Champions
As Defensive Coordinator, Ken Little helped coach the Henderson Lions from a 1-9 record to State Champions in just two seasons. The 2010 team included quarterback Del Barnes; running backs Jay O’Neal and John Polk; wide receivers Lamarcus Brown and Jacoby Hodge; defensive backs Trey Vallier and Rome Pollard; and linebacker Cord Fletcher and his twin brother Corey Fletcher on defensive end. Henderson defeated Chapel Hill 28-21 to claim the 2010 Division 1, Class 3A State Championship.
The Improbable Biography of Ken Little
The moving true story of small-town Texas football coach Ken Little, told from the perspective of his son Brad.
The Feature Film
A dramatic adaptation of the book that brings Ken’s story to life. Screenplay is complete. Currently in talks with potential producers and directors.
In Texas, football is king. It has been portrayed in Hollywood and around the world in films and books for good reason. But there would be no Friday night “lights” without the hard work and dedication from the many coaches that push the athletes to become the best version of themselves. These coaches work long hours and often serve as the only father-figure in many kids lives. They help bridge racial, economic, and social divides and become an integral part of the community. Fourth Down, Forever to Go is an intimate look into the life of one such coach: Ken Little. In a battle for his life against cancer off the field, he joined long-time friend and rival, Dickey Meeks, leading an improbable turnaround of the Henderson Lions, from 1-9 in 2008 to the brink of the 2010 Class 3A State Championship. Whether you are a coach, a business executive or just looking for an in depth look into what really goes into creating of those Friday night “lights”, Fourth Down, Forever to Go is a must read.”
Executive Director, Texas High School Coaching Association
State Championship winning coach with Garland, 1999
Texas HS Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2021
BECOME A PART OF THE KEN LITTLE STORY
Brad Little is the author of Fourth Down, Forever to Go: The Improbable Biography of Ken Little. Currently serving as CFO of Black Mountain Sand, Brad’s career spans more than 20 years in finance—plus a single season coaching high school football alongside his father Ken. Brad and his wife Kate live in Fort Worth, Texas, with their three daughters, Caroline, Claire and Emily.
We want to use the platform and powerful story we’ve been given to help change the world for the better. We want to lead by Ken’s example in how to respect others, overcome adversity and love one another. Each of our projects is individually unique, but they are all in service of these principles.”
Casey experienced Ken Little’s leadership, character and discipline firsthand, and he saw what an impact it had on the community. Casey co-owns 84 Phoenix with Brad, and as a Division President with Resolute Capital Partners in Dallas, Casey lives life by Ken Little’s leadership principles. He lives in The Woodlands, Texas, with his wife Glenda and their three children, Ally, Brody and MaKenzie.
As John Maxwell said, leadership is not about a title or a position. It is about one life influencing another. Ken did this every day as a coach.”
Bob Ledbetter ranks among the winningest coaches in Texas high school football history, having claimed three state championships while amassing more than 200 wins with the Southlake Carroll Dragons. In 1993, his team broke the national record, achieving 72 consecutive regular-season victories. Despite competing head-to-head as rival coaches, Bob and Ken’s relationship was one of friendship, mentorship and mutual respect that lasted the entirety of Ken’s career. Bob is a member of the Texas Football Hall of Fame.
Derrick Nnadi is a Super Bowl-winning defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs. He is also the founder of the Derrick Nnadi Foundation, which aims to cultivate positive change in people’s lives, inspire children and families through meaningful interactions and assist those in need. Derrick’s father taught him at a young age that “As Nnadis we don’t receive, we give,” and The Derrick Nnadi Foundation embodies that mantra through all of the work that it does.
Will Cureton is a former National Football League quarterback and close friend of Ken Little. With Ken’s coaching and encouragement, Will changed the trajectory of his life and career forever—he played starting quarterback for Texas A&M-Commerce, leading the team to an NAIA national championship in 1972. He went on to play two seasons with the Cleveland Browns from 1974-75.
Rickey Castleberry & Rodney Wilkins
Screenwriting duo Rickey Castleberry & Rodney Wilkins have contributed to several major television and feature film productions, with credits that include “Straight Outta Compton” and HBO’s “Pretty Little Liars.”
84 Phoenix is a nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to support education and community leadership in underserved and impoverished areas. Our name derives from founder Brad Little and his late father Ken Little, who shared a football number as well as a passion for helping talented individuals overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, as a Phoenix rises from the ashes.
In the game of life, you will suffer setbacks. Every day will push you—push you to your limits. Society will tell you that you are not good enough. Not strong enough. Not worthy of your place in this world. But you must not succumb to those disparaging thoughts. Be good men, be a good father, be a leader in your community and don’t lose sight of a brighter tomorrow.”
JOIN THE TEAM