Lions football coaching staff brings technology to press box

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When Lyons assistant football coaches prepare their electronics for games, they do more than check that the batteries in the headphones are good.

Now the coaches must ensure that their iPads are fully charged.

Lyons’ staff is among the first in the area embracing new technology, using a set of iPads to record video and review plays on the field during games.

This is similar to the process being used in the NFL, which this season is using Microsoft Surface Pro 2 on its sidelines.

But Lyons got the jump on using tablets last season on a limited basis when the IHSA approved their use during games. Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg purchased three iPads for the press box for all games.

Unlike the NFL, Lyons coaches and players don’t review video off the iPads while on the sideline; the three iPads remain in the press box. One iPad is used to record defensive plays, one is for the offense and the third one is a backup. Weinberg also has brought them to practices.

As the offensive coordinator and playcaller, Weinberg relies on his assistants in the press box to relay defensive coverages and alignments for blitzes.

“They are valuable for the guys in the booth,” Weinberg said. “They can look at them and it will remind them what they thought they saw.”

Three assistants sit in assigned seats in the Lyons press box: quarterbacks coach Jon Beutjer, running backs coach Sheldon Harris and linebackers coach Bryan Bergman. Beutjer and Harris sit next to each other and share the offensive iPad, while Bergman reviews the defensive tablet.

When the sophomore game ends, assistant sophomore football coach Chris Wall heads to the press box to help record video with the iPads for the varsity. A student manager also records the entire varsity game from the press box with a digital camera.

Wall records each drive and then passes the iPad to the respective coach. Beutjer and Harris evaluate the opponent’s defense and Bergman looks at offense.

“This was a job I volunteered for. I have experience with tablets, Apple [products] and technology. It’s easy to use,” Wall said. “[The video] gives you instant information and you can make instant changes.”

Using the headphones, each offensive coach relays his observations to Weinberg’s headset and Bergman stays in contact with defensive coordinator Mike Morrison.

“Being able to watch plays for a second and third time gives us the ability to relay information to our coaches and players on the sideline,” Bergman said. “When looking at plays on the iPad we look for indications on why the offense may have been successful on certain plays. Our alignment, technique, pursuit angles and overall play are all things we look for.”

Bergman said his iPad proved valuable during Lyons’ 21-7 victory Sept. 27 over Downers Grove North at Bennett Field.

“We noticed our outside linebacker was not going to his proper responsibility whenever we saw option,” Bergman said. “We communicated what we saw to the coaches and the players on the sideline and it was immediately fixed. In return, the play was unsuccessful for much of the rest of the game.”

Lyons’ technology may be catching on. Wall likes recording game action with the iPads so much that he wants to use them in the spring when he coaches boys lacrosse at Montini.

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