The Eli Sports Network has teamed with the WIAA, the NFHS and Gesa Credit Union to present a Football game of the week and either a girls soccer or volleyball game of the week. In total up to 10 football games and 10 girls events. The game is promoted statewide and is free for everyone to watch live and on demand. Fans without an NFHS subscription can watch although they do need to sign up for a free subscription but no credit card or payment information is needed to get your free account.
This week we are brining some real Championship action to the free events. First on Thursday we will carry the District 4 2B Girls Soccer Championship match from Kalama at 6pm. We will find out tonight who the final 2 remaining will be after the Semi-Finals with Kalama at Adna and Ocosta at Onalaska. By the way both of those matches will be on the ESN/NFHS Network Tuesday night but by subscription only. (See our Broadcast Schedule page for more information.)
Then on Saturday night for the 2nd week in a row we have a re-match of a 2019 State Championship game when Steilacoom travels to Tumwater to take on the Sentinels. These 2 teams clashed in an epic battle that saw the T-Birds pull out their 6th State Title and first one since the all-time winningest coach in state history, Sid Otton, retired. It was also the first Championship for long-time Olympia Head Coach Bill Beattie who took over for Otton after stepped away.
Both teams were expected to make strong runs at the Championship again this year with both teams returning a ton of players from last year. The Sentinels will be without their all-everything receiver Emeka Egbuka who left to enroll early at Ohio State. This will be Tumwater’s final game of 2021 but this is just game 4 of 7 for the Sentinels. Steilacoom is 3-0 coming into this game defeating Enumclaw, White River and Lincoln.
Tumwater has been stung by losing several games but did pick up a big game last week when Prosser stepped up to challenge the defending champs after a hole was created in the T-Birds schedule. They are 4-0 and this will be their final game. Kick-Off is set for 6pm at Tumwater District Stadium on Sid Otton field.
(Clip: Tumwater fell behind 6-0 but answered with a nice TD toss in the 1st quarter of the 2019 State Championship game.)
So far there have been a total of 5 Game of the Week events and it’s been a huge success with thousands of viewers tuning in to watch the free broadcasts. The program came together very quickly and without a lot of preparation. WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman was looking for a way to try and create a little bit of extra specialness. Hoffman says the Senior class has been hit harder than anyone else, first they lost all their spring sports and now they have lost all of this year’s normal post season events. So if there is anything we can do to try and make the 2nd half of the 2020-21 school year more special then we wanted to do it.
ESN V-P of Communications Will Gaethle says Eli Sports jumped at the chance to take on this project. Gaethle says for the first few weeks we are focused on games we were already going to cover under our subscription format and teams and match-ups we are most aware of such as this week’s football game. He says the challenge for us is to figure out the schedules each league has set for themselves, what would be good match-ups, we aren’t just looking for all-time great traditional match-ups but we do want what we think will be competitive games featured.
Fans have responded to the free showings, in the first match-up that was put together in less than 5 days after confirming the program the North Thurston Rams hosted the Capital Cougars in a football showdown. 2,180 live device views tuned in and so far there have been 313 on-demand views this equals a viewership of just shy of 5,000. Up next was our first girls event and it was a great match-up with Camas at Prairie in Volleyball and just a little more than 1,400 tuned in.
Then as expected with this beast of a match-up more than 14,000 people watched the Puyallup at Sumner football game. We had our first soccer match last week with Cleveland battling Garfield and that drew more than 650 viewers.
(Clip: Garfield stretches the field and finds an opening to punch in a 2nd 1st half goal to take a 2-0 lead over Cleveland.)
Last Friday in a re-match of the 2019 2B State Football Championship game Kalama threw down with Onalaska in an instant classic that saw the Ony Loggers hold off the Chinooks 68-58 in a remarkable ball game. The 4,000 people who tuned in were treated with a spectacular game that was played like a Championship re-match. In comparison to 2019’s Championship broadcast this year’s game had about 800 fewer viewers. The 5 broadcasts have combined for a total audience of 25,284 with at least 15 more shows to come.
(Clip: this 68-58 instant classic had tons of highlights in this montage Kalama gets a big TD pass as time expires in the half, then after returning a fumble for a TD the Chinooks kicker has the “excitement” catch up with him leading to a delay and a back up kicker who attempted an on-side kick but the Loggers then made them pay with a big answer.)
The Game of the Week concept is something ESN expects to continue the end of this year in one format or another says Gaethle. He adds, “we are already planning for when we get back to normal to continue the game of the week format where we will highlight a couple of broadcasts each week and give those match-ups a little more coverage than our regular presentations. Kind of like how Monday Night Football used to be really special.”
To watch the free WIAA Games of the Week or for any games being streamed on the ESN/NFHS Network go to the Broadcast schedule page as mentioned above and follow the link to the live view or on-demand landing page. The cost of the NFHS subscription is $10.99 per month or $69.99 for an annual pass. This give you full access to the NFHS network, not just games Eli Sports covers but also any NFHS broadcast in the state and in fact the nation.
This includes all of the automated streams that many schools have added and the literally tens of thousands of games on-demand many going all the way back to 2012. It is important to note that these are NOT pay-per-views but rather monthly or an annual subscription and you can cancel at any time, no long term commitment is required. And a portion of your subscription goes back to the affiliate schools.