The coaches at St. Paul High School in Newark, Ohio, have long prided themselves on their ability to catch opponent tendencies during the game. The results proved that line of thinking correct, as the Flyers went 32-6 from 2013-15.
But the staff is constantly looking to improve, and during one of St. Paul’s opening games, the coaches noticed the opposition using Hudl Sideline. Intrigued, they convinced coach John Livengood to add it.
According to assistant Larry Fisher, the Flyers’ eyes were immediately opened.
“We were surprised when we got the film and could really look at it how much we had missed live,” Fisher said. “We’d see stuff and go, ‘Holy cow, they were unbalanced here,’ or if the fullback was offset every time they ran toss, stuff like that. You wouldn’t see that in the game. You’d catch some of it, but we were surprised how many things we were able to pick up that we didn’t see live.”
Fisher originally approached Sideline with the thought that it could be a good tool for reviewing a few quick clips at halftime. But Fisher quickly realized that he could not only flag plays for his own review during the game, but he could pull aside a few players and make quick adjustments with them as well.
“You can tell kids something in a game, like, ‘You’re not getting to your assignment,’ or whatever it is, and they kind of nod and say OK,” Fisher said. “But when you show it to them, they tend to take it to heart. Things happen so fast in game. I think it showed them, just in a 10-second video clip, something important they needed to do. It was way more beneficial for our kids during the game than we thought it would be.”
A good number of St. Paul’s players play both offense and defense, and it would seem the coordinators might not have time to relay any insights on such an abbreviated timeline.
But Fisher found he could grab some of his biggest influencers, such as linebackers or senior captains, and show them a few quick videos. They then relayed this information onto the entire unit.
“We could show players who were in charge of adjustments, like the linebackers, some stuff,” Fisher said. “We were able to communicate more than we thought we would.”
The Flyers posted a 12-1 record in 2016, their best mark since 2009, and advanced to the regional finals of Division VII. While the players and coaches deserve the credit for the improvement, Fisher admitted that Sideline was a key aide.
“We had always been pretty good at breaking down film and getting tendencies,” Fisher said. “We’re pretty good, compared to a lot of staffs, of seeing what’s going on on the field and seeing how the other team is lining up.
“We had a pretty good program going before, but it did help.”