Craig Way has broadcast more than 5,000 games during his 35-year career ranging from football to basketball to baseball to anything else that has been thrown his way.
But nothing has ever meant more to him than covering high school football. He knows how important the sport is to players, coaches and fans across Texas.
“Sixteen million people attend Texas high school football games every year which says what it means to people,” Way said. “People tell us at Fox that the Friday night high school scoreboard show is the highest rated program that isn’t a live event.”
Way was humbled when he learned that he will be inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame as this year’s Dave Campbell special contributor to the game.
While many people know Way as the voice of Texas Longhorns athletics, his connection to Texas high school football goes back to the early 1980s.
On Friday nights this fall, Way will enter his 20th year as the anchor of Fox Sports Southwest’s High School Scoreboard Live show.
Since 1992, Way has broadcast Texas high school state championship games for Fox Sports Southwest, first as a sideline reporter before moving into the booth as a play-by-play announcer in 1995.
Doing play-by-play for as many as seven championship games in three days can be exhausting, but Way loves it.
“I’d do them all if they let me,” Way said. “They’d be worried if I’d have any voice left. I enjoy it so much. I always felt that broadcasting small schools was every bit as important as calling big schools because I know what it means in those communities.”
Way cut his teeth in broadcasting as a student at North Texas in the early 1980s. Studying under former Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers broadcaster Bill Mercer, Way remembers coming back to class with a cassette tape after covering a high school football game.
“After my first game, I got my tape back and he wrote three pages front and back on what to do,” Way said. “But at the end he gave me an A- and said it was a very solid effort. He told me years later that if he didn’t think I had potential he wouldn’t have written that much.”
Broadcasting for the North Texas campus radio station, Way remembers selling $25 sponsorships to businesses to underwrite Pilot Point football.
“The first game I did was a playoff game between Pilot Point and Whitewright,” Way said. “We got to halftime and I asked, ‘What do we do now?’ I said let’s carry some of the marching band for the people listening back in Denton. All of a sudden I realized there was no band on the field. They were playing recorded music, so I just went back to talking again.”
Way was hired by KRLD radio in Dallas in 1984 as a tape editor to write leads for the 4 to 8 morning drive show. He soon transitioned into sports and did a high school scoreboard show that became an inspiration for Fox’s Friday night scoreboard show.
Way has covered many memorable state playoff games. In 1992, he watched No. 1 Southlake Carroll beat No. 2 Vernon in a Class 3A regional game at Pennington Field in Bedford.
“That was a 10,000-seat stadium and 14,000 people were there,” Way said. “Carroll survived for a 39-35 win and went on to win the state title.”
In 2005, he watched Tatum win a 38-34 shootout over Hutto in the Class 3A Division II state championship game. Several weeks later, he broadcast Texas' memorable 41-38 win over USC in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
“When people asked me, I said I covered a game that was just as exciting three weeks earlier,” Way said.
But it’s Fox’s Friday night scoreboard show that people watch across the state throughout the fall.
“We know there are a lot of people out there watching it,” Way said. “There are pockets of coaches gathered watching it over coffee. If a score is incorrect, the phones light up.”