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C Spire Wireless Reveals Plans For Award-Winning "Bright Lights" High School Football Program And Fox Sports Television Broadcast Partnership

Original Sports Programming Celebrates Rich Tradition of Some of Biggest, Most Exciting Gridiron Rivalries in the South; Wireless Provider to Partner with FOX Sports South Network to Broadcast Four Rivalry Games in High Definition

RIDGELAND, MS. (May 30, 2012) – C Spire Wireless, the only wireless provider in the U.S. that offers consumers and businesses a suite of personalized wireless services, today announced plans to once again partner with FOX Sports South (FSSO) to televise four of the South’s biggest high school football rivalry games in prime time this fall.

The games and the high-profile broadcast plans are part of “Bright Lights: Football,” C Spire’s original sports programming and content delivery program that showcases the drama, passion, community pride and human interest stories around some of the most famous high school football rivalries.

The award-winning program, which is coming off its third highly successful season in 2011, features live, professional-caliber prime-time television broadcasts in high definition of four of the biggest and most exciting high school football rivalries in Mississippi on FSSO, reaching up to 12.9 million cable and satellite households in seven Southeastern states for select televised games.

Match Ups Feature Some of Biggest, Most Exciting Gridiron Rivalries in South

The 2012 schedule is stacked with high-powered teams coming off of a year filled with success, including two reigning state champions in their classifications and two other teams who played in the state championship game in their respective leagues. Teams that are scheduled to play in Bright Lights: Football program this year include:

  • Lafayette vs. Oxford (Aug. 30 in Oxford, Miss. – 7 p.m. CT game time) Lafayette High School, the reigning 4A state champion, will carry a 32-game winning streak into an Aug. 30 game against cross-county rival Oxford High School. Despite losing 17 seniors and Dandy Dozen quarterback Jeremy Liggins, the Commodores hope to keep the streak going against the Chargers. “We feel like we have a good football program and we’ll work hard and we’ll see what happens,” said Commodores head football coach Eric Robertson about the 2012 season.
  • Jackson Prep vs. Pearl (Sept. 13 in Pearl, Miss. – 7 p.m. CT game time) Jackson Prep, a perennial private school powerhouse, hopes to avenge a 33-9 loss at the hands of the Pearl High School Pirates last year and gain important momentum in its efforts to return to championship form. The Patriots were edged by Jackson Academy 17-14 on a last-second field goal in the Academy AAA state championship game last year. Jackson Prep head football coach Ricky Black hopes highly-regarded senior quarterback Ryan Buchanan can provide the leadership to get the Patriots to the next level. “If we practice, play and improve the way we did last year, this team can definitely win another state championship,” Black said.
  • Oak Grove vs. Petal (Sept. 27 in Petal, Miss. – 7 p.m. CT game time) The Petal Panthers hope to continue the 2011 momentum that brought them within a field goal of the school’s first 6A state football championship. They’ll have to do it without Dandy Dozen quarterback and Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year Anthony Alford, who graduated and went to USM along with head coach Steve Buckley, who was hired as a Golden Eagle assistant. Replacing Buckley is new head coach Marcus Boyles, who left Wayne County after 12 successful years. Oak Grove hopes to earn a tough road win at Petal and improve on a 7-4 record last year. Nevil Barr, who retired from full-time coaching duties at Oak Grove in February, is returning part-time as the Warriors head football coach.
  • Picayune vs. Pascagoula (Oct. 4 in Pascagoula, Miss. – 7 p.m. CT game time) The Picayune Maroon Tide, fresh off their first state championship since 1986 and second in school history, are hoping to continue their winning ways against host Pascagoula in this important 5A division game. The Panthers are hoping to avenge a narrow 20-14 home loss last year to Picayune and build on its 9-4 record from last season. Picayune’s run-oriented offense will hope to get a boost with all five starters on the offensive line returning for the 2012 season.

“We’re honored to be one of the teams chosen to participate in C Spire’s high school football rivalry program, which has received lots of attention and praise in football circles around the country,” said Jackson Prep head coach Ricky Black, who will be making his second appearance in one of the program’s rivalry games. Black’s Patriots defeated archrival Jackson Academy 35-23 on Sept. 24, 2010 during the program’s second year. “Pearl is a well-coached team and they are capable of beating any team on any given night, so we will need to come prepared to do battle and give our best effort on the field to win this game.”

As one of the single largest and most comprehensive sports programming and customer engagement initiatives undertaken by a company, the program also will feature a wide variety of user-generated content, contests, games, new sports-related game applications and interaction with social media networking sites. All of the program content will be housed in the company’s website, including back stories, video highlights of the rivalry games, user-generated videos, photos, blogs and more.

“From marching bands, intense coaches and dedicated young players to cheerleaders, dance teams and pep squads, Bright Lights Football will continue to explore the drama, passion and community pride associated with these rivalries and capture the compelling content and human interest stories that emerge from this competition,” said Jim Richmond, director of Corporate Communications for C Spire Wireless.

To bring the action to the most high school football fans, games will be aired on FOX Sports South in selected markets reaching up to 12.9 million cable and satellite households across the Southeast. “FOX Sports South strives to serve the interests of local sports fans,” said Jeff Genthner, senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports South and SportsSouth. “Our commitment to local coverage is reflected in our partnership with C Spire Wireless to televise these exciting high school gridiron rivalries.”

FOX has assigned a 30-person production team to capture all the game highlights and action for the games. Besides deploying a 53-foot long television production center and a 42-foot long satellite truck, the regional sports network also is bringing in a 48-foot lighting vehicle with a 110-foot boom to full illuminate the playing fields during the games. Each game will feature at least eight cameras – the same number used to film NFL and major college football games.

Games Will Showcase Latest Professional Sports Production Technology

“All four games will be televised in high-definition in primetime with FOX Sports Network caliber talent and production facilities,” Genthner said. The games also will feature NFL-caliber pyrotechnics, aerial video and a massive jumbotron on an elevated platform that includes text to screen fan interaction elements and scrolling messages during the TV broadcast.

Young & Rubicam (Y&R), C Spire’s New York-based advertising agency since 2008, will be the executive producer of the 2012 program while FOX Sports South will produce and televise the high school football rivalry games.

“We’re looking forward to building on the success of our first three years of programming as C Spire engages consumers in new and exciting ways,” said Sean Howard, general manager for Y&R New York. “We’ve assembled an outstanding broadcast, film and production team to showcase this dynamic content and give football fans an opportunity to enjoy some of the most spirited high school football rivalries around.”

Part of that success has been some international recognition for the program with C Spire and Y&R winning a Bronze Cannes Lion at the 57th annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 2010 in the media category for best use of media.

During the program’s inaugural year, in addition to broadcasting the five rivalry games, C Spire sponsored a 12-episode television reality series that followed two rival Mississippi high school football coaching staffs and their teams through the 2009 season and playoffs. The series was picked up in April 2010 by FOX Sports Network and was telecast nationwide reaching more than 83 million households.

The company worked with officials from public and independent high school athletic associations in Mississippi to identify and recruit the eight high school football teams that will be featured in the Bright Lights Football 2012 program. “All the coaches and schools involved are very excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to showcase their student-athletes, their schools and their communities,” Richmond said. “We’ve received a tremendous amount of cooperation from the schools, the teams and officials in the high school athletic associations and we appreciate their willingness to get involved and support this program.”

“We’re excited to partner with C Spire to bring this rich, compelling content to high school football fans,” said Don Hinton, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association. “The South has a long, rich tradition of being a hotbed for more than its fair share of gridiron rivalries.”

Les Triplett, activities director for the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, said the high school football rivalry program makes a lot of sense because some of the biggest grudge matches aren’t always played on Saturday or Sunday in college and professional football games. “They’re played in high school football games. This MAIS-MHSAA matchup involving Jackson Prep and Pearl should create a tremendous amount of interest,” he said.

For more information and details about C Spire’s 2012 “Bright Lights” high school football program, visit www.cspire.com/brightlights/football.

About C Spire Wireless

C Spire Wireless is a diversified wireless communications company passionately committed to helping customers by personalizing wireless services designed just for them. The company is the first wireless provider in the U.S. to personalize customers’ experience by offering apps that fit who they are, services that anticipate their needs, and rewards for using their phone in new ways – all with seamless ease and at amazingly fast speeds. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire Wireless and its products and services, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.

About FOX Sports South

The FOX Sports regional networks serving the Southeast – FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports Tennessee and SportSouth – collectively reach more than 12.9 million cable and satellite television households in seven states across the Southeast and are the television home of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies and the Nashville Predators, as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Conference USA, Southeastern Conference, Big 12 Conference and Pac-12 Conference, and offer expanded coverage of the University of Kentucky, University of South Carolina and University of Tennessee. Combined, the four networks produce more than 800 live local events each year. For more information, visit FOXSportsSouth.com, FOXSportsCarolinas.com and FOXSportsTennessee.com.

About MHSAA

The Mississippi High School Activities Association is a non-profit, nondiscriminatory association operated by the state’s secondary schools. The Association is responsible for academic and athletic competition among the 530,000 students in the state’s public and private schools, including debate, drama, speech, writing, music and 14 different types of sports. The MHSAA also is responsible for 4,000 officials and referees, who are registered and certified through association clinics. For more information, visit www.misshsaa.com.

About MAIS

The Academy Athletic Conference was formed in 1969 with 14 charter members and sponsored athletic competition in football, basketball and baseball. By November 1970, there were approximately 60 member schools. On Nov. 21, 1970, the Executive Committee of the Academy Athletic Conference was formed to conduct the business of the conference. Member schools felt that a small representative body of people could conduct the business more efficiently than the entire membership. The Academy Athletic Conference merged with the Mississippi Private School Association during the summer of 1971. In August of 1971, the name of the governing body for athletic activities was changed to the Academy Activities Commission. In the summer of 2009, the name of the association was changed to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. For more information, visit www.msais.org.



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