Even though golf and tennis and the Christian schools have gotten a head start - heck, the Mid Penn Colonial Division has already played more than half of its golf matches - Friday marks the official start of the fall season in high school sports.

That means the third edition of the Chambersburg vs. Greencastle-Antrim football rivalry, the annual Enos Yeager Invitational in cross country and many other sports jumping into their schedules.

It's an exciting and busy time of the year.

The sports staff at Public Opinion has actually been up to full speed for two weeks now. Last week we produced the 24-page Football Guide that was published in Wednesday's paper and this week we've been previewing all of the other sports - and there are a bunch of other sports, especially now that girls soccer has moved to the fall.

So now would be a good time to bring you up to date on our plans for coverage, and some changes we have in store, starting Friday night.

In a lot of ways, the stories we bring you in our print editions about our local athletes will not change. We will have the Athlete of the Week features on Tuesday (female) and Wednesday (male) each week. We will have a Game of the Week and other high school football previews each Thursday, although they will be in Friday this week because of the Football Guide. Thursday also includes the High School Extra page, with a feature story, Honor Roll, notebook and statistics.

Saturday brings you previews for Shippensburg University and Penn State football, as well as the Chambersburg Cardinals as long as they stay in the playoffs.


Sundays will include the popular Too Far column by Graham Messner and Monday is the day for our college athletes roundup. On top of that will be coverage of the games we preview, plus many other games, and the roundups, which are results of all the games in each sport for the schools in our area.

However, there is one big change coming to the printed P.O. sports section. And it has everything to do with our parent company's name: Digital First Media.

As I'm sure you are aware, the newspaper industry is in a state of flux. I've been in the business for 36 years and I've seen more change in the last six years than the previous 30 combined.

The basic fact to keep in mind is that we've gone from being only a newspaper - the kind you pick up and read - to a total media organization that provides your news in many different ways.

Take, for example, Friday's football game at Greencastle. Six years ago, the best you could do if you were interested in that game was to actually go to the game, maybe catch highlights on TV and read about it in the newspaper the next day.

Friday, if you can't make the game, you can log on to www.GameTimePa.com either on your computer or an app on your mobile device and watch the game on video livestream, accompanied by a play-by-play webcast. You can also follow the scoring and big plays via Twitter (@GameTimePa or @LiziArbogast).

Later Friday night, go to the GameTimePa website and read my game story and a notebook by Lizi Arbogast, which should be posted by around 11 p.m. Later, a video package with highlights and interviews, produced by Colin Stevens, will be added to the game story.

A gallery of photos from the game, taken by Ryan Blackwell, will also be online at GameTimePa. And those of you on Facebook will be able to read the stories and view the photos on the P.O. or GameTimePa pages.

That's quite an array of platforms on which you can get information about the Trojans vs. Blue Devils game. And it will be that way for each of our 10 featured football games this season.

The catch?

Because of our earlier deadlines for the paper and the need to post information online as soon as possible, something had to give.

For that reason, stories that would have been printed in the paper the day after a game will now be published in the following day's edition. So, for example, all of the print coverage for Friday's football games - and all of the other Friday events - will be in Sunday's sports section.

We tried it a different way for the spring season, but it wasn't effective because all of the roundups were available only online and not in the paper. This was a decision not easily arrived at. I am a traditionalist at heart and my instincts were to preserve what had worked for years and years while adding on what is needed for the reality of today's digital world. Let's face it - more and more readers are getting their news online or on their phones rather than by reading the paper.

But, having gone through the spring season trying to make the best of it, I realized that some readers weren't happy (not all the news was published in the paper), the reporters weren't happy (not as many games could be covered) and we weren't keeping pace with our new digital responsibilities. We concluded that we had to rework our priorities.

Let's review.

Here is a list of changes you might need a while to get used to: Coverage and roundups of athletic events will be in the paper a day later than usual. That's it.

But here is a list of the advantages:

- All of the results and coverage of events will be published in the paper. Readers who like to put together scrapbooks are back in business. - All of the results and coverage of events will be available online as soon as we get them typed up and edited, which for early events, could be well before 9 p.m.

- Additional time will be available for reporters to cover games, resulting in more live Tweets.

- Reporters will have more time to post blogs, update the online scoreboard and post stories - and do it much earlier - than in the past.

- GameTimePa.com can be your source for all area high school sports. The site will include stories, blogs, videos, standings and a live scoreboard, plus livestreamed events.

- Yes, there is a cost to being able to view all of the content online. Just as gathering news for the newspaper costs money, such is the case for gathering and producing news for online. But the price is not high, considering the amount of news you receive -- a digital subscription is $1.99 an month for print subscribers and $5.99 a month for non-print subscribers ($19.99 and $59.99 annually). You can sign up online and take advantage of a one-time special of 99 cents for the first month.

Let the fall season begin.


Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and egotwals@publicopinionnews.com.