Emerging technology: football teams benefit from on-field replays

There’s been a significant change in how high school football coaches adjust to an opponent.

For many teams, gone are the days when a sharp-eyed assistant from a booth in the press box relays instructions to other coaches who are anchored on the sideline. Now, sideline video replays on a wide-screen television are favored.

That’s why it’s not uncommon to see offenses and defenses huddled together, often under a protective tent, watching significant replays of a game that might have happened just a minute before. Opportunities that previously wouldn’t be revealed until after exhaustive Saturday-morning film watching can now be addressed real-time and implemented the next series.

Think that’s an advantage on game nights?

“Some of our guys said it’s almost like cheating,” said Wayne coach Jay Minton.

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»FLYIN’ SCHEDULE: MLK holiday weekend, Jan. 12-15

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This is the result of a rule change by the National Federation of State High School Associations in 2013 that allowed sideline use of iPads and video during football games. Initially, it went unnoticed. The NFHS reported that less than one percent of teams it contacted had implemented this kind of on-field technology the first season it was available.

Now, wide-screen TVs and multiple clickers are as common as water bottles. That’s why Wayne’s offense huddles around offensive coordinator Brian Blevins and watches replays during a game. It’s the same for Sidney junior quarterback Andre Gordon and the Yellow Jackets’ high-powered offense. Northmont’s first-team defense was often locked onto sideline replay during last week’s 21-14 defeat of visiting Centerville.

The use of iPads initially was a favorite among Dayton City League coaches. But that small-screen review doesn’t carry the wide-spread impact of a large-screen TV. Many larger schools with more resources and deep-pocket booster programs eventually doubled-down on the instant replay availability.

Hudl is a replay software program that is favored by most teams. This is used to separate offensive and defensive plays, special teams, third-down tendencies and every other conceivable situation the operator can imagine. Hudl game film is exchanged between teams with a personal computer click.

Doing all that during a contest and implementing real-time adjustments is a game-changer.

“Who would ever think you’d have that kind of ability and technology on the sideline,” Minton said. “You basically coach on the run with it.”

There are limits to how playbacks can be used. Coaches can show iPad replays during a time out on the field to a team that’s huddled. But coaches can’t share that on-field replay info when the ball is inside an opponent’s 9-yard-line. Also, unlike the NFL or college football, any attempt to show an official a replay will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

Wayne’s large-screen, on-field TV was donated. Minton defers to assistants such as Blevins to coordinate game-day usage.

“I’d put my fist through it, probably,” said Minton.

• Most of the area league and conference titles and the playoff status for contending teams will be affected by Week 9 games. Here’s a look at what’s at stake:

GWOC: None of the four divisional titles have been clinched. The National East will undergo the most significant adjustment with Fairmont (6-2, 0-2) at Centerville (7-1, 2-0) and Springfield (6-2, 1-1) at Wayne (6-2, 2-1). Beavercreek (5-3, 1-2) takes a three-game losing skid against visiting Miamisburg.

Troy (6-2, 3-0) and Piqua (5-3, 2-1) likely will decide the American North title in Week 10. Trotwood-Madison (8-0, 3-0) is a lock to win the American South. Northmont (6-2, 1-0) is at Springboro (4-4, 1-0). That winner secures at least a share of the National West title.

GCL Co-Ed North: Alter (7-1, 5-0) and Chaminade Julienne (6-2, 5-0) are headed to a Week 10 showdown to decide this title. However, both have significant Week 9 challenges. Alter hosts McNicholas (5-3) at Fairmont and CJ hosts Badin (5-3).

SWBL: Valley View (8-0, 4-0) can clinch a share of the Southwestern title against visiting Brookville (6-2, 3-1). Middletown Madison (6-2, 4-0) has only to beat Waynesville (1-7) and Northridge (0-5) to win an outright Buckeye title.

CBC: Kenton Trail leader Bellefontaine (7-1, 3-0) hosts Mad River leader Indian Lake (6-2, 3-0) in a Week 9 crossover matchup that doesn’t count toward divisional standings. Both have secured title shares and will win outright with Week 10 wins.

SOPL: Belmont (8-0, 5-0) can clinch an outright American Division title by beating Western Hills at Welcome Stadium on Saturday. That will conclude the Bison’s nine-game regular season. Taft (6-2, 4-0) clinched the National Division title by beating Dunbar last week.

MAC: Marion Local (8-0, 6-0) can clinch a share of the title at St. Henry (6-2, 4-2) on Friday and hosts Parkway (1-7) in Week 10. Anna (7-1, 5-1) is at Coldwater (6-2, 5-1) on Friday, with the loser falling out of conference title contention.

CCC: Miami East (7-1, 6-0) can clinch a title share against visiting Tri-County North (4-4) on Friday. Also in contention are Bethel (7-1, 5-1) and newcomer Fort Loramie (7-1, 5-1).

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