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FSD to start airing three prep football games a week, recap show; Devin Gardner an analyst

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Fox Sports Detroit is ready for some more football.

With the NBA and NHL still in playoff-mode, and not sure when their next regular seasons will start, Fox Sports Detroit is filling some of that programming void with weekly coverage of high-school football games.

Starting Friday, Oct. 2, FSD plans to broadcast three of the best games from across the state, with the top game on linear television, and two more games streaming at FoxSportsDetroit.com. FSD also will have a weekly, hour-long recap show, complete with highlights from even more games.

Devin Gardner is joining Fox Sports Detroit's high-school football coverage.

Former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner will be one of the game and recap-show analysts.

"We were looking at the calendar and we realized we didn't have any live events in October, November or December," said Greg Hammaren, senior vice president and general manager for FSD. "So we started looking at what we can do to help ourselves, help our fans and help our partners.

"We came up with the high-school football theme fairly easily."

More: Under the wing of Devin Gardner, Joe Milton ready to be Michigan starting quarterback

FSD has long carried the Michigan High School Athletic Association football finals from Ford Field, but this is relatively new territory making the leap into regular-season game coverage.

All the games will be called from FSD's studios in Southfield, with analysts calling the games off monitors — like they've been doing for many of the Tigers games this season. The analysts will have access to multiple camera angles and audio being sent back from the three live-game sites. FSD will work with a third-party production company, Rush Media, to help set up trucks at all three sites.

FSD will work with the MHSAA to pick the best games of the week, with a focus on branching out across the state, and not just staying in Metro Detroit.

"We truly want to pick the best games available," Hammaren said. "We'll use our best judgment, along with input from the MHSAA."

Among the games that have been set for live FSD coverage:

►Oct. 2, West Bloomfield at Clarkston (linear), Harper Woods at Davison (streaming).

►Oct. 9, Macomb Dakota at Utica Eisenhower (linear), Hudsonville at Caledonia (streaming) and Livonia Stevenson and Livonia Franklin (streaming).

►Oct. 16, River Rouge at Detroit Catholic Central (linear) and Dearborn at Dearborn Fordson (streaming).

More: Detroit News high school football rankings: Week 2

Play-by-play announcers are still be worked out. Gardner, an Inkster native who played at Michigan from 2010-14, will be a game analyst and also provide analysis for the weekly recap show. FSD's Trevor Thompson and Brooke Fletcher will do sideline reports from game sites, and report for the recap show.

The recap show, "High-school Football Overtime," will air for an hour, from around 9:30 to 10:30 p.m., and be hosted on a rotating basis by FSD's John Keating and Mickey York. FSD will have access to many more games' video highlights for the recap show.

"We think it's going to be a lot of fun, especially with a live environment," said Hammaren, adding that the recap show will re-air multiple times over the weekend.

Hammaren said FSD — which has aired a high-school football recap show on occasion over the years, first in 2011 — could look at making prep football somewhat of a staple in the years to come, though not to this level, given so many Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings games happen on Friday nights.

It's too early to say what FSD's plan will be for this year's state football finals, which might have to find separate sites for each division if their traditional home, Ford Field, is unavailable.

High-school football kicked off in Michigan late last week, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eased some executive orders as they pertained to contact sports. The MHSAA originally planned to postpone the season.

FSD airs Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings regular-season games, but the Tigers' season is almost over, and the Pistons and Red Wings likely are not starting up again until around Dec. 1. Also helping fill the void: FSD will re-air the weekly Lions game in prime-time on Wednesday nights, and it also has acquired 15 games from both the ACC and Conference USA.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984