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Presence of Cameras Makes for Good Show

Opening installment of Thursday night high school football proves to be a hit.


No, your television did not turn into an etch-a-sketch Thursday night. That was Notre Dame High running back Justin Fargas zigzagging all over the screen.

And while watching him run through the Alemany defense, wasn't it cool to also see that the New York Yankees pounded the Baltimore Orioles and that 14th-ranked Alabama shut out Vanderbilt?

Fox Sports West 2 televised the season opener won by Notre Dame, 43-15, the first of what will be weekly televised Thursday games.

For openers, the telecast was first-class. Besides the major league baseball and college football scores scrolling across the bottom of the screen, other big-time touches were evident.

Replays were frequent. Cameras caught all the touchdowns and were fooled only once on a two-point conversion attempt.

Equally impressive was the behavior of the players. Not once did a Knight or Indian mug for the cameras or hot dog more than usual after a touchdown.

The coaches, no doubt, had laid down the law on showboating. The lights might have been bright, but discipline was tight.

The litmus test came not on one of Fargas' three touchdown runs, but on an 18-yard score off a shovel pass by Alemany freshman Deandre Scott in the first quarter. Scott, who already has developed a reputation for boasting, simply dropped the ball in the end zone and accepted congratulations from teammates.

Fargas answered with a 76-yard scoring run on Notre Dame's next play from scrimmage, and Rod Arzu hauled in a 59-yard scoring pass on the Knights' next play, effectively putting the game out of reach.

The score reached 33-7 at halftime and announcers Jim Watson and John Jackson faced the most daunting of tasks: keeping viewers from changing the channel in a lopsided game.

They had already used their best material, finding Fargas' father, actor Antonio Fargas, in the stands and flashing then and now shots of him playing "Huggy Bear" in the "Starsky and Hutch" television series.

Reporter Brian Mitchell pointed out that Notre Dame fans stand throughout the game, a tradition at the Sherman Oaks parochial school. Johnson mentioned that Fargas and Alemany tailback Miguel Fletcher were close friends as well as track and field standouts.

By the end of the third quarter, viewers knew that Fargas wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become an actor or a rap musician. Clearly, the announcers had done extensive homework.

Following Fargas' footsteps made this game fun to watch, and all of Fox's thoroughly professional whistles and bells can't match the excitement of a truly exciting player.

Fargas, who rushed for nearly 3,000 yards last season, finished with 272 yards in this one, looking every bit the top college prospect he is. Between the professionalism of Fox and prowess of Fargas, someone walking into the room and viewing one of his runs might assume the channel was turned to a college game.

Two more telecasts of games involving area teams are scheduled by Fox: Westlake vs. Hart at College of the Canyons on Sept. 25 and Thousand Oaks at Westlake on Oct. 23.

Next week's game matches defending national champion Mater Dei and St. John Bosco at Cal State Fullerton. And the games are followed by an hour-long magazine show "Inside Cal-Hi Sports."

All in all, those who get Fox Sports West 2--and 2.1 million households in the Southland do--can spend Thursday nights getting their fill of high school football.

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