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Rifle football video program could be canceled

Jon Mitchell
jmitchell@postindependent.com

The co-owner of a multi-media company in Rifle said this week he’s uncertain if his business will continue taking video footage of Rifle High School football games.

Ryan Mackley of Rifle-based Align Multimedia said his outlet has considered discontinuing recording footage of high school football games for the upcoming 2015 season. If they do return to record football games, Mackley said it will be presented in a much different format than it was during the football team’s run to the Class 3A state title game in 2014.

“Financially, it just wasn’t working for us,” said Mackley, who has been filming footage of Rifle High football games since he was a student at the school in the early 1990s. “Officially, we’re still undecided about how it is we’re going to approach this season.”

Last year, align produced a two- to three-minute weekly Internet show called “Rifle Football Weekly,” which showed highlights and, at times, player and coach interviews during the program. In-program sponsorships helped to fund the production, which in most cases was edited and produced by Mackley.

Footage from the show was shot by volunteer videographers, who Mackley and align had been using for years prior to the coming football season.

Rifle High’s football program — one of Colorado’s most successful small-school programs in recent years — was placed on restriction by the Colorado High School Activities Association in December. The status, which stemmed from one of Align’s volunteer videographers stepping into the opposing team’s coach’s box during the Bears’ Class 3A semifinal home game against Fort Morgan, bans Rifle from postseason play.

A letter dated Nov. 24, 2014, from Fort Morgan Athletic director Kyle Bules to CHSAA following the state semifinal accused Align volunteer videographer Bruce Harper of calling Fort Morgan’s plays into Rifle’s coaches during the game, a claim Rifle’s coaches and administrators have emphatically denied. CHSAA placed Rifle on restriction the following month.

The restriction can be lifted, however, if CHSAA feels the school has made, and followed through with, a corrective-action plan to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again. The incident from Bears Stadium has also had a further-reaching impact: CHSAA has implemented a state-wide sideline rule that prohibits media members from entering a team’s designated area on the sideline.

Mackley, who was a volunteer assistant coach for Rifle last season, said he will not return to the sideline as a coach in the fall. He added that if he or his crew of videographers do return to film Rifle High football games again this year, he’ll either be filming on the sideline himself or serving in a supervisory role for the volunteer videographers who are on the field.

Either way, the end result, should there be a Rifle High video production this year, will be much different than last season.

“It’s a great thing for the kids,” Mackley said. “But we’d have to get more sponsors or have more parents come out of the woodwork to help out for it to work from a business perspective.”


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