Bally Sports Detroit plans live prep football broadcasts every Friday night

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Last summer, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, executives at Fox Sports Detroit did some brainstorming for content ideas, not knowing when — or even if — the NBA, NHL and MLB would restart their seasons, or in the case of MLB, start its season.

So FSD decided it was going to invest in high school football coverage, including game broadcasts and a studio show each Friday night, in addition to the state finals, which the network long had covered.

The coverage was so well-received, the network, now Bally Sports Detroit, has decided to do it again.

BSD will broadcast high school football games every week this season, starting with the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.

“We are very excited to expand our live coverage of MHSAA high school football," Greg Hammaren, senior vice president/general manager of Bally Sports Detroit, said this week. 

“Bally Sports Detroit is where Michigan fans cheer on our local teams and nothing is more local than the great traditional of high school football in Michigan.

"We are proud to be bringing a 'Friday Night Lights' feel to high school football across the state.”

BSD will broadcast games every Friday night, starting Aug. 26 with the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State. Broadcasters will include Johnny Kane, former Lion and Packer T.J. Lang, former Michigan QB Devin Gardner, former Tigers outfielder and current Tigers analyst Craig Monroe, and Rob Rubick.

The games will be broadcast on BSD, BSD-Plus or the Bally Sports app, depending on if there any conflicts with Tigers, Red Wings or Pistons games.

Each broadcast site also will feature interactive activities and a promotional tent, and some games will see a visit from legendary Lions receiver Herman Moore, who will sign autographs and pose for photos.

The early broadcast schedule includes:

Thursday, Aug. 26: Canton vs. Dearborn Fordson, 4 (BSD)

Thursday, Aug. 26: Detroit Catholic Central at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, 7 (BSD)

Friday, Aug. 27: Birmingham Groves vs. Dexter, 4 (app)

Friday, Aug. 27: Warren De La Salle vs. Chicago St. Patrick, 7 (app)

Saturday, Aug. 28: Eastpointe vs. River Rouge, 1 (app)

Saturday, Aug. 28: Detroit Cass Tech vs. Southfield A&T, 4 (app)

Friday, Sept. 3: Detroit Cass Tech vs. Muskegon, 7 (BSD+)

Friday, Sept. 10: Detroit Cass Tech vs. Detroit King, 7 (BSD+)

Friday, Sept. 17: Traverse City Central vs. Traverse City West, 7 (BSD+)

Friday, Sept. 24: Grand Ledge vs. DeWitt, 7 (BSD+)

Friday, Oct. 1: Lowell vs. East Grand Rapids, 7 (TBD)

Games beyond Oct. 1 remain TBD. BSD will broadcast a game during each of the rounds of the state playoffs, and each of the eight finals games at Ford Field in Detroit.

BSD also will broadcast the Xenith Senior All-Star Game on Nov. 28.

The Aug. 26-28 games on BSD are part of the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic, in conjunction with the Detroit Sports Commission.

“Bally Sports Detroit has been a terrific partner to the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic and we welcome them back for the exciting opening of the high school football season in Michigan,” Marty Dobek, deputy director of the DSC, said in a statement. “The live broadcast of the opening day games and Bally’s on-site fan activation provides a high profile, statewide launch of the event and directly supports the longtime goal of the Detroit Sports Commission to create a bowl game-like atmosphere for fans and participating schools.”

Last year, high school football teams in Michigan played six-game regular-season schedules in the fall, after initially deciding to move the season to the spring. This year, the plan is to go back to nine-game schedules.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984