CLINTON — It wasn’t so long ago that on the Saturday morning after the Iowa high school football playoff pairings were announced, coaches from opposing teams had to jump in the car and drive for hours to exchange DVDs of three of their games for scouting purposes. Before that it was video cassettes and before that film.
It’s all changed now.
Like everything else in the 21st century, scouting has gone high tech.
“In ‘09 we were driving around, meeting in gas stations halfway, trying to exchange tapes,” Clinton coach Lee Camp said. “It’s just changed that much in the last four years.”
In some ways it’s made the life of coaches a lot easier, while in other ways it’s a lot more complicated. But, there’s no doubt it has made scouting opponents easier.
“We buy into a program called HUDL — everybody in our conference does — and every (Friday) night when we get back, one of our coaches uploads our film instantly on to that and it’s put up,” Camp explained earlier this week as his team prepared for today’s 7 p.m. Class 4A playoff game at Cedar Rapids Xavier. “The next morning — our conference rule is it has to be up by 8 or 9 o’clock — we will share it with the rest of our conference.”
For the playoffs, teams must exchange video of their sixth, seventh and eighth games of the season, so they can come up with a scouting report on opponents. Now, instead of having everybody gather around a television to view a tape, anyone with a computer and the password can see it.
“We can share it with anybody,” Camp said. “We give all of our players the password. They can come in and watch our films. When somebody like Xavier and I are going to exchange, the coaches just upload and release these three films to his email and vice versa.”
Camp said how much players watch depends on them.
“It’s kind of interesting,” he said. “Some of the kids really watch it a lot. Some of them don’t watch as much as they should. The technology of the I Phone and such makes it so they can just watch it a little bit at a time.”
Before the video gets to the players, though, the coaching staff has dissected it and made notations.
“We’ve got some coaches at the varsity and even at the lower levels who divide up the responsibilities,” Camp said. “Coach (Nate) Herrig does a lot of that, then coach (Jon) Wauford and (Kurt) Denahy. You’ve got to divide it up or it could get real time consuming.”
After that, it’s on to the players for their consumption.
“We mark the plays by offense, defense and kicking,” Camp said. “They can arrange it and just watch the offensive plays if they’re on defense or vice versa. We even tell them what the play was and the formation. It’s pretty neat.
“We pull out specific plays, ‘This is what you’ve got to watch,’ to try to keep them from getting caught up and watching the entire game.”
River Kings players find it beneficial.
“It really helps,” senior receiver Lucas Laufenberg said. “You can see plays you messed up on and the good plays you had.”
Senior Nate Harden, a starter at offensive tackle and linebacker, said he “looks at other linemen, see how they play, how big they are, and also looks at linebackers to see how fast they are and if they blitz a lot.”
The program isn’t limited to scouting opponents, either.
“It also works for college coaches,” Camp said. “They’ll call me and say, ‘I’d like to see this kid, are you on HUDL?’ and we’ll give them the password and release the specific game to them or whatever they want.”
But, regardless of the technological advances, players still have to translate what they’ve learned to what they do on the field. They’ll discover tonight how well they’ve prepared.