OCFF 2021 – Inside the Lines With the Dover Senators
The 5th annual Ocean City Film Festival is virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s all online, running from March 4-11. OCFF 2021 has a collection of short films and features, numbering about 80 titles total. Every night, there will be a feature that will be broadcast online. Some will be one-time screenings, meaning they can’t be streamed 24/7 like the others. They can only be seen once and at that specific time or you miss it. The opening night feature is one that can be streamed 24/7. It was made on Delmarva and it was made by someone living here on the peninsula.
José Cuevas is an anchor and reporter who started working for WBOC in 2018. After the TV station bought Telemundo and WRDE and launched it in November of 2019, Cuevas started working for those channels. He originally was hired for WBOC’s sports department. He started following the Dover Senators, the Delaware boys basketball team for Dover High School. He focused on them because their 2018-2019 season had only one defeat, which was at the very end during the State Championship game. The team was all juniors, and all of them returned for the 2019-2020 season, so there was anticipation and maybe anxiety if the team could repeat their previous perfect record.
On December 6, 2019, Cuevas first introduced “Inside the Lines” during that evening’s WBOC News at 11. The second half of that show on Friday nights is known as the “Final Score” and it’s anchored by WBOC’s Sports Director Zach Parnes. It used to include Cuevas as a co-anchor and reporter where Cuevas mainly covered Delaware sports. Cuevas said that “Inside the Lines” was going to be an exclusive web series available on the WBOC Sports Facebook page. During “Final Score,” Cuevas would show a 30-second clip or tease of the full chapter. The high school basketball season usually runs from December to March. That’s about 16 weeks. With a game or two a week, that’s about 20 games. Cuevas did a chapter for “Inside the Lines” for pretty much each of those weeks.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on the end of the high school season, but Cuevas was encouraged to edit together each of the chapters into one-long feature or special. This film is the result. It starts at the end of the 2018-2019 season, showing that sole defeat at the hands of the Sanford Warriors. Cuevas then uses that loss as a springboard to take us through the 2019-2020 season, week by week. The highlights of which are electric, almost literally, as the editing is very dynamic and quick.
The game play is punctuated with interviews with members of the Dover Senators, including head coach, Stephen Wilson. Coach Wilson along with some of the ball players are captured in a very emotional moment, as they suffered that sole defeat, making their record 24-1. We then watch as Coach Wilson does what he can to encourage his team into victory after victory during the next season. Yet, along the way, various team members talk directly to camera about the season but more about who they are, what brought them to basketball and what they hope for their future. There’s also a chorus of pride from the coach, assistant coaches and players that has them repeating, “I Am a Dover Senator.”
Besides Coach Wilson, two players stand out in the film. One is Wanya Wise, a guard who is considered the comedian of the group. There’s also Elijah Allen who made history by joining the 1,000 point club or 1K club, as Parnes phrased it. That particular aspect isn’t featured in the film, but still Allen makes an impression as the film goes along. If nothing else, the film does spotlight a group of young men who are talented and hard-working and who persevered through some tough circumstances.