Messenger Post Media, which publishes the Daily Messenger in Canandaiguq, N.Y., and the related weeklies around Rochester, produced a 28-page tab that covered a number of high schools. Below is a sampling of pages.
The feature stories on facing pages add a nice magazine quality to tab.
Paul Gangarossa, sport editor for the group, edited and designed the section. Here's what he had to say:
Our 2012 High School Football Preview Special Section included 40 teams from three counties that make up our coverage area. Each team was given a preview capsule that gave readers the nuts-and-bolts -- who the top returning players were, some players to watch, coaches' expectations, etc. The capsules were organized by the division which the school's played, putting teams and their opponents right next to each other because readers would have the highest interest in those other schools that they play. It was an efficient way to get representation from a wide area and incorporate as many athletes names as possible without stressing already thin resources. We also had a schedule page with each team's schedule listed in alphabetical order. Also in the section are four team preview stories of teams we deemed the most important to the region, either by virtue of perceived success or just uniqueness of the story. From an advertising standpoint, we sold team sponsorship ads where local business could get some ink while showing support for their local schools. We also sold regional ads. On the day the section was released, the front-page A1 photo of our 10 weekly papers was localized to that specific paper and reefed to our special section insert to let readers know.
All of this was put together with a four-person sports staff (Sports Editor Paul Gangarossa and staff writers Bryan Sullivan, Dan Goldman, and Jay Notareschi). Photos were taken by the sports reporters, as well as staff photographers Jack Haley and Seth Binnix.
Nice work, Paul!
Also in New York, John Anderson, a regional editor for the Hornell Evening Tribne and the Wellsville Daily Reporter, sent along a few covers. Here's the Hornell cover, followed by his comments on the section:
The Hornell Tribune does a Broadsheet Football preview using templates from previous years, rosters and more. The cover this year is one of the most talked about covers we have ever done.
Our Sports Editor, Derrick Balinsky, teamed up with Derek Land in composing on a unique idea. The long-time football coach in Hornell retired after winning three straight New York State Championships and 39 games in a row. A young assistant has taken over and Derrick Balinsky listed the negative's he's heard on the street along with the positive's on each side of the coach.
Feedback: Mixed. Some negative comments about us being negative. One reader said we should not compare the new coach to the old because the old coach was God. And he was serious. The new coach was OK with the cover and I think it's one of the best we've done.
And here's the covers for Wellsville:
The newspaper does two things, a Football Preview and the Football Program, that we took from the boosters, we sell their ads for them and give them a donation. These have become a nice revenue source for us.
The Football Preview cover guide was shot by Paul Jannace and the design was done by Kelly Schecter, who is now the General Manager of the Evening Tribune in Hornell. (For) the Football Program, I shot the photo. The high school team won their first ever championship in 2011 and the cover is of the seniors using Windex to make room in the trophy case for another trophy. Kelly Schecter again took the art and designed the cover.
Jumping to Illinois, Galesburg's The Register-Mail produced a tabloid special section for its fall sports teams. Here's a look at the football pages:
Down the road to Peoria, the Journal Star produced this fine broadsheet section:
Pages have a lot of impact. The schedule page above is super nice. Here's what sports copy editor Wes Huett tells us about the section and the folks who helped put it together:
It started in the summer. As with any major undertaking, planning proves vital. No different here. The Peoria Journal Star's sports editor Kirk Wessler met with designer/copy editor Wes Huett and prep football reporter Lonnie Schwindenhammer.
Wessler had an idea, inspired in part by the Rockford Register Star's stellar effort from 2011. Wessler wanted to create our biggest high school football preview section yet. We have done the yearly section for nearly 20 years, but none would be as large and as all-encompassing as this. Twenty-eight pages, broadsheet, with tons of help from all in the building - from advertising to photo to sports. We'd all need to work together, work together fast and work together well.
After a few minutes of brainstorming, Lonnie brought up the inordinate number of Division I recruiting talent in Peoria area football. I then chimed in with the catch phrase -- the theme if you will -- of "Landmark Talent," which would allow us to not only spotlight our tremendous athletes but also our area's beautiful cities, towns and villages. We'd get full pages for select players, numerous portrait-style photographs and feature-length stories. In short, an undertaking thought uncommon in this climate of short staffs and budget cuts.
Uncommon? Not here. Advertising sold the heck out of the book, allowing us wide-open pages upon which to apply our theme liberally; reporters Schwindenhammer and Stan Morris pounded keyboards to provide acres of copy; photogs Ron Johnson, Zach Nelson and Fred Zwicky snapped colorful and dominant images. I designed a small logo to tie together our theme, picked a font family from which to work, and after that, my designing and editing felt more like waving a ship in from sea - its long voyage started long before I fired up InDesign.
Really nice, Wes, thanks for the info on the behind-the-scenes planning.
Now let's jump back to the East Coast, The staff that produce The Enterprise and The Patriot Ledger offered these pages. First a smpling from The Enterprise:
Now a handful of pages from The Patriot Ledger section:
Sports Editor Mark Torpey had this to say about the sections:
This is a style we settled on several years ago and we have had good feedback from readers.
The style — formatted capsules on each team — may seem unorthodox, but we find them to be much more readable and informative than the traditional story.
Also, this style accomplishes two things. One is that every school is given equal space and billing, so no one associated with any of these schools feels slighted. Secondly, we found that when we wrote traditional stories, the headlines on each story became excruciatingly redundant. (Team hopes for big season.)
Each year we select an issue that is timely and affects the high school football community and make that the focus of our cover story, which is the same in each paper. For two weeks prior to this section, we write features about each of these teams.
We're gonna jump back to upstate New York to take a look at the section produced by the folks at the Observer-Dispatch out of Utica.
Really nice work. I thnk the cover has a little too much type on the page, especially with the wordy ad at the bottom. The page does have impact. Love the doubletruck presentation on the centerspread.
Heading back to Illnois, Rockford to be exact, the Register Star's nicely branded Gridiron section comes back to life this fall.
Nice poster cover on the section! Pages have lots of text and information, but the large photos keep the pages from feeling text-heavy. Nice schedule page!
Now we leapfrog Indiana into the heart of Ohio's football country — Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With the kind of presence the hall of fame brings to Canton, you'd better beleve The Repository is going to do a professional job with its prep football preview section. I can say they did not dissapoint:
The cover uses a number of photos, both recent file and some much older, to showcase the story of a local coach's 40 year at the helm.
The inside pages use lots of color, mugs galore and plenty of stats and team information to make most football fans drool.
A fantastic job by The Repository for treating high school football teams like the NFL.
Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at email@example.com.