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Web Series Spotlights Prince George’s Athletics, Academics

Dozens of teenagers jogged and conducted blocking drills, while one attempted a field goal.

As the football team at Dr. Henry A. Wise High School prepared to defend its Maryland 4A-state championship this season, players are pushed to a higher standard.

“You work so hard we can’t wait to play on the football field,” said Isaiah Hazel, a senior committed to the University of West Virginia. “Our coaches coach so hard they can’t wait to coach on the football field. The whole coaching staff has been teaching how to be young men and how [to] prepare ourselves in life.”

Those interested in learning how nearly 150 players from Wise continued their education in college since 2006 can view the “PG13” web series, now in its third season, on the Prince George’s County Public Schools website (www.pgcps.org) and various social media platforms.

The second show of the season, which aired Monday, highlighted the Bowie High School Bulldogs, which look to rebound from a 1-9 record last year while integrating a new “character coach” to chat about topics unrelated to football.

Visionary Media Productions, owned by Dave Owens, creates four- to seven-minute videos that go behind the scenes of the county sports teams not only on the field, but in the classroom.

As a former WUSA-TV (Channel 9) sports reporter and anchor, Owens said the web series goes beyond the quick highlights.

“I wanted to continue my long form of storytelling and utilize that to help organizations tell their story [and] take charge of their own narrative,” he said. “Every organization needs to do it, but I applaud Prince George’s County public schools for having the foresight to know that this type of promotions is incredibly important and a unique way to do it.”

Besides showcasing the student-athletes, Owens also provides young adults with experience to help produce some of the episodes. For instance, he said, a young lady from Morgan State University in Baltimore assists with some of the video work.

“As we go to year three, it has given me the opportunity to work with a lot of young people to work their way in the communications business,” he said. “Young men and women can help out in the process.”

Approximately 13 episodes of high school football will be shown this year on Mondays.

Last season, Owens said his company produced 25 episodes of high school football, basketball and lacrosse. It produced 100,000 page views on Prince George’s digital platforms.

Schools spokeswoman Raven Hill this season will strictly focus on football.

“PG13 combines good storytelling with high-quality sports footage to showcase our scholar-athletes,” she said. “Each episode takes you inside the coach’s mindset, the players’ motivations and the community surrounding the school.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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