Prattville – Don Bosco Prep pulled to a 23-0 lead early and held off a roaring comeback by Prattville in the second half to hold on to a 35-24 victory in a game featuring the number one teams from Alabama and New Jersey.
Although the Lions fell to the Ironmen on Friday night, it was a chance for the football team and the city to be featured on national television.
ESPNU, a multimedia college sports brand, highlighted by a 24-hour television network and website, televised the matchup as part of the Old Spice High School Showcase.
An estimated 40-credentialed members of the ESPN crew were on site at Stanley Jensen Stadium.
There are various content, technical, and logistic issues that go into the production aspects of covering a sporting event such as this, explained John Vassallo, ESPNU Senior Coordinating Producer of High School Events.
“This is really no small task simply because many of the high schools we deal with do not have sports information people at the media’s beck and call,” Vassallo told Our Prattville before the game on Friday. “So, we do have to get with the people at the schools early on to ensure that we are comprehensive in our coverage and have all of the updated statistics.”
“For some of the high schools, it is the first time that they have had a 40-50 foot mobile unit there and the first time that they have had to bring in a generator,” he continued. “We have also had to bring in supplemental lighting. So, from a content prospective and from an operational prospective, it’s a big challenge.”
According to Vassallo, representatives from ESPN tend to communicate with a visiting team via conference call during the week prior to game day and meet with the home team on site.
“That’s pretty standard even with our college coverage,” said Vassallo. “We’ll usually be able to do a full meeting with the home coaching staff either the day before or afternoon before.”
Vassallo also added that with high school football, it is not only a story of a team, but it’s also a story of the community as well.
“We’ve virtually been all over the country … we’ve been warmly welcomed, the schools are cooperative, the communities are cooperative, so it just gives us great satisfaction to feel that what we’re doing actually means something to people.”
This is the second time that Prattville has appeared on ESPNU; the first time was in 2008 when the Lions planted their paws firmly atop the Brentwood Academy Eagles (from Nashville, Tennessee) in a rout of 26-0.
The next high school football game covered by ESPNU will be on October 2 when Byrnes of South Carolina takes on St. Thomas Aquinas from Florida.
Article by Melissa Parker
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