Teams finding new ways to scout

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As the sons of football coaches, Leyden’s Tom Cerasani and Oak Park-River Forest’s John Hoerster can appreciate how much video technology has made their jobs much easier than their fathers.

“I remember we had a bedsheet and a 16 millimeter [projector] in the basement,” said Hoerster, who is in his second-year as coach. “He would pick up the [developed] film at a place downtown and then bring the film back and splice it together.”

Hoerster’s late father, John, coached Loyola from 1987-2002 and won a Class 6A state championship in 1993. Cerasani’s father, Tom, coached Schaumburg from 1984-2004 and led the Saxons to second in Class 6A in 1999.

“Dad would make copies of tapes, spending six to seven hours on Sundays,” young Tom Cerasani said.

The days of looking at actual film, copying VHS tapes and burning DVDs are long gone. Now, due to hudl.com, video highlights of past games are a few clicks away and scouting video on an upcoming opponent is available the next day. All 14 schools in the West Suburban Conference subscribed to the Lincoln, Neb.-based website beginning this season. The site has changed everything about the video process of coaching high school football.

There is no need to exchange film with coaches after games anymore. Teams don’t even use DVDs in the West Suburban Conference. After each game, the entire video — both from sideline and end zone cameras — is uploaded to hudl.com, where it is re-edited for any coach or player to access on the website through the use of a login and password.

At Hinsdale South, the entire team gathers at school every Saturday morning to watch the previous night’s game video off the website. Later in the week, individual position coaches will send their players a scouting presentation on their next opponent. Coaches can share video on formations, highlighted plays and can even add special effects such as a Telestrator and spot shadow on the screen. There is even a cellphone app. Coaches can send their players a playlist from an opponent or any other highlights to be watched on their phone.

Hinsdale South senior quarterback and two-year starter D.J. Deolitsis only watched video last season off a DVD during a study hall at school. Now he can watch it anytime at his PC at home, or a laptop or on his phone. The website has made Deolitsis’ preparation for games easier since his quarterbacks coach, Pat Naughton, does not teach at Hinsdale South.

“You never know if coach will shoot a message to us,” Deolitsis said. “’Heh, look at this.’ And he’ll put something on hudl. [The app] is really easy because you don’t have to be home to use it.”

At Leyden, every student is supplied with a laptop at the school, so Cerasani knows all of his players have access to game video. OPRF quarterback Lloyd Yates watches the bulk of his video from his laptop.

“I like it a lot,” Yates said. “Everyday practice is filmed and everyday I go to our practice to see what I did wrong. I can see what I can do in other areas.”

Hudl started in 2006 as a project by three University of Nebraska computer science students. Now it is used by the NFL, hundreds of college football programs and will have 11,000 high school subscribers in 2012, according to Brett Kunz, a sales representative. Hudl’s service for high school programs started four years ago and claims to have captured 65 percent of the high school market. The most popular pricing plan is $800 per year per team.

“Hundreds of conferences across the country use hudl,” Kunz said. “Some sign up all at the same time.”

One area football coach said his school is looking into using hudl.com during the upcoming basketball season. Hudl has 75 employees working out of an office in downtown Lincoln just blocks away from Memorial Stadium. Chicago native Bill Callahan, an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys and former Nebraska coach, is currently on hudl’s Coaches Advisory Council.

Its website claims: “We’re a young gang of nerds, marketers, designers and former jocks who love sports and tech. Where the two meet is our playground.”

Since many college programs use hudl, high school coaches no longer have to burn a DVD to send it to a recruiter as an individual player’s highlight film. Hudl allows coaches to put together a list of highlight plays on a player and email it to college programs requesting film.

“The kids can make their own highlight films,” Hinsdale Central coach Rich Tarka said. “[The site] beats playing phone tag with other coaches and finding the time to make other [DVD] copies. I teach math and I don’t have time during the season.”

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