SOLON — It’s prep football for Generation Net and beyond.
As the game is turning high tech, the Solon Spartans lead the way.
“The game has evolved,” Solon Coach Kevin Miller said. “This is right up our kids generations’ alley. This is what they’re familiar with.”
The latest evolution is the web-based video analysis software called Hudl, that the Spartans have begun to use to break down game film this season.
Solon, one of 13 schools in Iowa and 400 high schools and colleges nationwide to use the product, was approached by Agile Sports this summer and jumped at the opportunity to try it out, according to Miller.
Hudl allows teams to download game film to a server, edit and categorize the clips and distribute them to team members. Players and coaches each have accounts and passwords to access the program through www.hudl.com.
“We publish that to them so they have it at their fingertips as well,” said Miller, who can monitor the players’ accounts to keep tabs on players and their usage.
The Spartans post game film from previous games and scout tapes. The software provides detail information on players, formations and play-calling tendencies.
“It’s as specific as I want to make it,” Miller said. “This thing is really limitless in regard to its potential. It can do anything.”
Miller said he likes how it fosters communication between players and coaches.
Coaches can leave text and audio messages for players on each clip. They also can produce diagrams with a telestrator-type function.
Watch Gazette Communications’ visual journalist Brian Ray’s package on Solon using the Hudl program.
Plays can be broken down specifically for each position. Players and coaches don’t have to waste time viewing unnecessary plays.
“It saves in that process, because you can really break it down and concentrate on certain plays that you want to, certain players on opposing teams, “ Solon assistant coach Mark Sovers said. “It’s a great way to self scout yourself as well, because you can just watch the clips you need to watch.”
The program is a hit with the players. Senior running back/linebacker Andy Ashton said it’s “tremendous” and serves as a “big teaching tool” for the two-time defending state champions.
“I think it’s awesome,” Ashton said. “It’s really easy to see everything (and) really understandable.”
The biggest convenience with Hudl is players and coaches only need an Internet connection to activate their account.
Game film can be studied and dissected from any computer before class, during study hall or even in the confines of home.
The latter is a favorite of Ashton.
“Usually at home,” Ashton said about using the program. “After I get my homework done I usually log on there and watch some game film.”
The program can also be accessed through an Xbox 360 — a popular video game console.
“The easy access really,” Ashton said about the perks of the system. “It’s easy to use. It’s not very complicated. It simplifies things a lot for you in terms of watching film and understanding the opponent and what they’re doing.”
The biggest time requirement is downloading and editing the video. Solon assistant coach Mark Silvers is in charge of streaming the video and cutting each clip that gets categorized in the system, allowing the coaches and players to access them.
In the long run, coaches don’t have to devote as much time to meetings.
“It saves a lot of back-end time,” Sovers said. “Basically what we spent Sundays dealing with in our coaches meeting is already done. We can just watch whatever plays we need to on Sunday and generate what other reports we need to off the Hudl program.”
The Spartans (11-0) will get plenty of use out of the program as they prepare for a 2A quarterfinal tonight at 7 against host No. 5 Iowa City Regina (10-1), attempting for their 39th straight win.
“We’re just trying to stay up on the latest changes,” Miller said. “It’s been a good thing so far.”
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