High School Sports

Upon further review: St. Stanislaus football scores big with new instant replay system

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 St. Stanislaus defensive coordinator Rashad Dunn shows linebacker Mitchell Walk a play on a tablet during the second quarter of the Shrimp Bowl against Gulfport at Milner Stadium in Gulfport on Aug. 21.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD St. Stanislaus defensive coordinator Rashad Dunn shows linebacker Mitchell Walk a play on a tablet during the second quarter of the Shrimp Bowl against Gulfport at Milner Stadium in Gulfport on Aug. 21. SUN HERALD

It's not quite a technological revolution that's going on at St. Stanislaus, but it's about as close as you might get to one on the gridiron.

This season, the Rockachaws football team began using a relatively new instant replay system called Echo1612.

The system essentially uses a closed wireless network to send video from the team's camera atop the press box down to the sideline for instant use by coaches and players. Instead of waiting until Saturday to see where a play broke down, the Rockachaws are getting real-time feedback.

"When you're a head coach and run the system we run and you're also the offensive coordinator, it's hard for me to really get a good picture and see what's actually happening," Conides said Wednesday. "You can talk to guys in the booth or even talk to the players and still not really get the answer you're looking for in terms of adjustments you need to make.

"So, here you are with an iPad exactly like how they use them in the NFL, where you can see adjustments and make adjustments right away."

Conides said the door opened to use the system back in 2013 when the National Federation of State High School Associations implemented a rule that allowed "expanded use of communication devices" on the sidelines as long as they're not taken onto the playing field.

Last year, Conides began getting emails from various companies and over the summer the Rockachaws pulled the trigger on Echo1612.

Since then, he said the program has been invaluable. For instance, in St. Stanislaus' 49-35 win at East Central last week the Hornets came out in man defense, something Conides said they hadn't seen on film all season. After the first series, which ended with a failed fourth-down conversion, the Rockachaws broke out the tablets and made adjustments. SSC fumbled on its next possession but punctuated the next five complete drives -- halftime cut one short -- with touchdowns.

The first thing quarterback Myles Brennan does when he comes to the sideline is pick up an iPad. He said it's like cramming a week's worth of practice into about five minutes.

"I feel like we're winning games because of it," said Brennan, who leads the Coast with 2,916 yards passing and 28 touchdowns. "It's that big."

Evolving

Once the system is set up, Conides said it doesn't take a lot of maintenance. For the in-game operations he turns to his "tech guys," seniors Chris Scalidone and John Rhode. On the sideline, the Rockachaws can clip plays, slow video down, freeze frame formations and even write on the tablets. Conides likened it to having the video analysis website Hudl at their fingertips.

"This is just a part of what we're trying to do here. The game is changing and has been changing for a long time," Conides said. "It has always been changing. This is part of the evolution itself to where these kids are visual learners. They can see their mistakes and understand their mistakes so much better when they see it versus when a coach tells them to do this or that.

"Now the kids can see mistakes happen or how the defense is doing this or that and make the adjustments as they go."

Looking ahead

According to the company's website, a single-camera system costs $1,700 the first year and then $400 annually.

Biloxi first-year coach Bobby Hall said the Indians are exploring various instant replay systems and plan to implement one next season.

Conides said similar systems are popular in other regions like Texas and Louisiana. He expects other Mississippi programs to follow suit.

"I think everybody needs to do it, to be honest with you," he said. "For the benefit of the kids, I think everybody should do it."

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