STEUBENVILLE - The Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times will be publishing their annual high school football preview edition on Aug. 27.
For the first time, this extremely popular feature will be a glossy, magazine-style publication throughout and, as usual, will showcase high school football athletes from all over the Tri-State Area with an emphasis on the 11 schools directly within the coverage area.
"We had the opportunity to really expand on the good work we've done with past publications, and this year's edition will reach even higher," said Ross Gallabrese, a former sports editor and current executive director for both newspapers. "We want to extend this opportunity to others in new, exciting, ways."
One way the newspapers are expanding the publication is through the use of full color on glossy magazine pages.
Dubbed "The Gridiron" for the 2014 season, the all-glossy high school edition will be followed up with a separate pro and college football edition.
"Advertisers will now have a chance to see their ads in full color in the high school edition, and they can really do something to stand out as compared to past editions," said Denise Delatore, advertising director. "There are some new ad types and, with the magazine style, advertisers can express their company or business in unique ways."
Delatore said "disruptor" ads, in which text flows around an ad in a unique way, are now available but only in limited quantities.
Many of the disruptor ads have already been sold, but a few remain, and Delatore said the advertising sales staff is ready to work with potential advertisers to meet their needs.
Family members and friends of a high school football player can now showcase a specific player inside the magazine. This is a new component for readers and fans.
The sports staff will already have the player's picture on file, and all that's needed to complete the process is the special message for the player that will be included with the ad.
"Readers have wanted the opportunity to showcase their favorite player in our publication, and for the first time, we're making that possible," Delatore said.
The cost for the full color ad spot is $25, and orders are being taken until Friday.
Mike Mathison, sports editor for the newspapers, said his team is ready and excited for not only the new magazine, but for the coming football season.
"In setting up for the new magazine, we have a chance to write these previews and interact with the kids and the coaches. That's always a blast and an opportunity to get some insight," Mathison said about the days leading up to the magazine's publication.
"We want to give readers some insight going into this football season, and we have a chance to express our opinions, but it's really about showcasing the players and the tremendous talent we have here in this region."
On Aug. 26 - the day before its appearance in the paper - The Gridiron will be available for sale during a special event at the Herald-Star offices. The kickoff party is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park adjacent to the Herald-Star. Those who purchase the publication will also get a hot dog, chips and a drink.
Throughout the football season, the newspapers will continue the extensive coverage readers respect and have grown to expect. Last year's revamped "Football Xtra" feature will return every Thursday during the football season. It offers previews of the upcoming games and keeps readers up to date on standings and statistics.
"When you look at the whole package and see what we're doing for the readers and for the kids, I think you would be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive high school football preview section anywhere throughout the area," Gallabrese noted.
Potential advertisers are encouraged to contact Delatore about the possibilities, and those wanting to purchase an ad highlighting a specific player can contact Pat Scheel for information. Both can be reached during normal business hours at (740) 283-4711 or by stopping by the offices at 401 Herald Square in Steubenville.