Prep football: Company wants to show games on television
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An innovative question occurred to Ryan Vance during a 2012 high school football game, and it could potentially change the face of the sport in Southwest West Virginia.
"We were at the Cabell Midland-Huntington game last year and I said, 'Why is this game not on TV?' I couldn't believe that there was nobody televising it," Vance said Tuesday during a phone interview.
The question, posed to his friend Caleb Jones, paved the way for the creation of Tri-State Sports Media. The company headed by the friends with respective backgrounds in video (Vance) and audio (Jones) production will attempt to provide live television coverage of high school football games in the 2013 season.
"We decided, 'Let's do it,' and we're in the process of striking up a deal with WSAZ to show it on MyZ," said Vance, a production specialist with Digital Media Services in Huntington. "We've talked with several schools."
The Tri-State Sports Media has developed a 10-game schedule to televise games on Thursday nights beginning with the opening week of the prep season. The schedule includes Capital's game at Huntington in Week 6 of the season, George Washington's game at Cabell Midland in Week 8 and Hurricane's trip to Capital in Week 10.
"This has been going on in other states for years," Vance said. "People do it everywhere. There's no reason why it can't be done in West Virginia."
Network West Virginia has shown high school games for several years exclusively on Suddenlink cable, but has mostly done so on a tape-delay basis. State championship football and basketball events have been shown live on the network in more recent years.
The TSM schedule is almost exclusively comprised of Class AAA teams, most of which are members of the Mountain State Athletic Conference. The only Class AA game on the schedule is the season opener, when Tolsia visits rival and two-time defending state champion Wayne.
Vance said the schedule posted at the company's website amounts to somewhat of a wish list.
"There's still four schools on the schedule that we haven't been able to get in touch with," he said.
In fact, the opener is still in wait-and-see mode.
"Here's the problem: I have not yet spoken with Tolsia," Vance said. "I've left a message with their athletic director and their coach, though."
The more significant pitfall for TSM's venture is finding the money to produce its project, Vance said.
"In order to produce this live it requires a significant investment that we'd have to recoup via advertising sales," he said. Vance said that originally the company had targeted July 16 as a deadline for advertising. He said the company is still pressing on with its attempts, however.
"In my head I said July 16, so we're obviously past that. The first game is Aug. 29. There's still quite a bit that needs to be done," he said."
A game that is set in stone on the schedule - as long as TSM can get off the ground, at least - is a Sept. 12 date between South Charleston and Spring Valley to be played at the Timberwolves' home field in Huntington.
"South Charleston and Spring Valley were two of the schools that were most willing to work with us," Vance said. "They were very accommodating as far as their willingness to move their game to Thursday night."
Though early in the season, the game between SC and Spring Valley figures to have major playoff implications. The Timberwolves handed SC a 37-36 loss in 2012, one of four Black Eagle setbacks in a second consecutive season in which they failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Spring Valley returns 4/5 of a powerful offensive line in 2013 led by All-State junior Trevor Stacy. South Charleston has senior All-State wide receiver Kevin Forrest back in the fold, as well as sophomore quarterback Kentre Grier and junior running back/linebacker A.D. Cunningham.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.