Anyone who has recently reviewed the schedules of a few Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association football teams noticed there are three regular-season games slated for New Era Field.
While giving football players a chance to experience what it's like to play at an NFL stadium is a reason it's not the only one.
The games at the home of the Buffalo Bills are part of a multi-year agreement between the private schools league and Pegula Sports and Entertainment to carry live broadcasts of several games involving MMHSAA teams on MSG Network and OneBuffalo.com. PSE plans to air four games this season, according to a deal announced Thursday on the John Murphy Show.
The first game PSE will broadcast is the 7 p.m. Sept. 16 clash between St. Joe's and longtime state power Aquinas of Rochester. The last will be the Monsignor Martin championship game at 2 p.m. Nov. 18. Inside the Bills' Chris Brown, a former radio voice of University at Buffalo football, will handle play-by-play duties, with John Murphy Show co-host and ex-Bills receiver Donald Jones serving as analyst.
The series of games are being presented by DENT Concussion Center.
"It's an outstanding opportunity for all our schools and will increase the exposure of our athletes who are playing football this season," said Monsignor Martin Executive Director Pete Schneider.
Other games that will be broadcast by PSE are the annual Canisius versus St. Joe's rivalry game, which is slated for 7 p.m. Sept. 22, and the Oct. 19 Thursday night clash between St. Francis and Canisius -- a rematch of the past two Monsignor Martin championship games.
The deal gives league teams an opportunity to expose more than their football programs to those who watch the games. It's also a chance to attract potential future students to their respective schools.
"It's a good deal for the league" said Jim Mauro, Canisius High School's athletic director. "It gives all the schools visibility. … It's advertising you probably don't have budget dollars for. I don't know if we would just buy [a 30-second commercial] spot. Now you have your football team there and you can produce some spots that will run during the game."
This isn't the first time the Pegulas have shown an interest in scholastic sports, as HarborCenter enters its third year as host of the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association boys ice hockey final four. It may not be the last either.
"It's a natural progression of our programming," said Mark Preisler, executive vice president of media and content for Pegula Sports Entertainment. "Our goal when we made the deal with MSG was to not just give our teams exposure but find new ways to put on what we find is beneficial programming to the viewers in Western New York. High school sports is the next progression.
"This is our first step into high school sports. Our goal is to continue expanding into high school sports, not just in the Monsignor Martin but across Western New York."
Advance tickets can be purchased at the schools of the participants. They also can be bought on game day at the Bills' ticket office.
St. Joe's announced tickets for next week's game against Aquinas will be on sale at the concession stand at Robert T. Scott Complex during the Marauders'4:30 p.m. home opener against Cardinal O'Hara.
The deal between PSE and the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association means a mini cornucopia of local scholastic football will be televised or streamed online. Spectrum Cable is airing several Friday night games each week on its various platforms (Spectrum News Channel and online) during the regular season.
"To me it's a tremendous boost for Western New York high school football and the ability for those kids to get recognized," said local football guru and Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame member Dick Gallagher. "I think it's a tremendous complement to the quality of football in Western New York. ... The more coverage the better it is for those kids.
"When you look at the number of games being televised this year as opposed to past years it's incredible. It provides more credibility to the kids playing football in Western New York."