Matt Kelly hoped for one football game between Millard schools for this year's “Thursday Night Showdown” television package.
The executive producer of TNS got two, with a bonus of two more games at Buell Stadium.
“Obviously in my mind, this is a positive especially since we were told in our first year that (Millard) would never do a Millard-Millard game on a Thursday,” Kelly said. “It was nice validation that they're seeing enough positives from us.”
The nine-week schedule of 7 p.m. games on KXVO (Cox Cable channel 11) and The World-Herald's NEPrepZone.com, begins Aug. 29 with Millard North at Millard South at Buell Stadium. Kelly is the play-by-play man and former Millard North and Iowa State quarterback Todd Doxzon returns as analyst.
Thursday, Kelly and Doxson will host an hourlong live preview show at 6 p.m. at Mrs. B's at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, 700 S. 72nd St. Fans are encouraged to dress in school colors to participate in what Kelly hopes is a pep rally atmosphere.
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Nolan Beyer, the new director of athletics for the Millard Public Schools, said his district was willing to move some big-gate games “to highlight all the positive things going on in our schools.”
“It's not only football, but the environment at Buell Stadium with the bands, the cheerleaders and dance teams,” Beyer said. “It's Friday night football, just on Thursday.
“Our philosophy had been when there were two games scheduled for Buell in a week, we played what we thought would be the best-attended game on Friday. We've gotten away from that, realizing that if there's a Millard-Millard game people will come out regardless if it's on Thursday or Friday.”
Kelly said this year's games will be televised in high definition. Bill Steckis will be the new sideline reporter.
Schools included for the first time are Omaha Benson, Omaha Roncalli, Platteview, Blair, Seward, and Wahoo Neumann.
Platteview visits Roncalli on Sept. 5, followed by Blair at Ralston on Sept. 12, Millard West-Millard South at Buell on Sept. 19 and Seward at Omaha Skutt on Sept. 26.
The final month's games are Papillion-La Vista South at Benson for the Bunnies' homecoming on Oct. 3, Omaha Creighton Prep-Millard West at Buell on Oct. 10, Westside-Millard North at Buell on Oct. 17 and Neumann at Boys Town on Oct. 24.
“We're excited about the season,” Kelly said. “We continue to have positive feedback. Going into year three, people know they're getting high quality broadcasts that will be better yet with HD.”