Thursday, November 22, 2007

FSN's cameras pan to the preps

Joanne C. Gerstner: TV/radio
FSN's cameras pan to the preps

For many high school football players, this weekend is it -- the final game of their career. Most won't play in college, and even fewer will have a chance at the NFL.

And that makes this weekend's high school championship games a priority for FSN Detroit. The network is airing seven games live Friday and Saturday. Saturday night's Division 3 final -- Orchard Lake St. Mary's vs. East Grand Rapids -- will slide to FSN Plus because of the Red Wings' game.

FSN, which has been home to the high school finals since 1998, thinks of covering the eight games as a labor of love. More than 50 staffers will work in shifts to produce what they hope are NFL-quality broadcasts from Ford Field.

"It's probably one of the most unique things we do all year, it's quite the undertaking," FSN executive producer John Tuohey said. "What makes it so fun for all of us is that it is the purest of sports. The raw emotions, from the fans and the players and coaches, are always right there. This means so much to them.

"In some ways, all we need to do is turn the camera on that and it tells the story in amazing ways."

FSN's Matt Shepard and John Keating will be the play-by-play announcers, each covering four games. Former Lion Rob Rubick and former Michigan stars John Wangler and Stan Edwards will do color commentary.

They will have all the tools available during a Lions' broadcast -- telestrators and 10 to 12 camera angles. The Division 3 and 5 games also will be streamed live over

The on-air teams have been busy with homework, something that's made a bit easier thanks to the Internet. Research on Menominee's single-wing offense in Division 5 or the hot quarterback in Division 7 simply is a click away.

"When people tune in, they may not know a lot about the high school that's playing, but it's the holiday weekend and they're general football fans," Tuohey said. "It's our job to be as conversant as possible about that team, school and even town to make that game the best we possibly can. It's a lot of fun for all of us."

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