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AHS adding instant replay

Andalusia High School is the only local high school that plans to implement instant replay in its football program next week.

The National Federation of State High School Association’s rules do not allow instant replay for high school football, but the Alabama High School Sports Association has been granted a waiver to implement instant replay as an experiment for up to three years. Area head football coaches say that this could change high school football.

The AHSAA will partner with DVsports, a company that specializes in instant replay technology, and will provide schools with equipment that facilitates in-game instant replay. DVsports coordinates instant replay for many major sports organizations, including the Southeastern Conference in college football.

“We will start this in the fall of 2018,” Andalusia Head Coach Trent Taylor said. “I went to the AHSAA Central Board meeting and to the press release about the instant replay and we will be the first state to incorporate this in the regular season.”

Taylor said that this season will be important because every other state will be watching to see how Alabama programs use the equipment.

“I think there will be a learning curve,” Taylor said. “It will be nice to know that you have something in your back pocket if a call goes a wrong way.”

The instant replay option comes with several rules, including each team will get two reviews during the game. The head coach will have a red flag that he will throw toward the nearest official to request a challenge of the previous play, and the flag must be thrown prior to the next play starting. Two officials who were not involved in the play will conduct the review, and there has to be conclusive video evidence to reverse a call. Referees will review the footage on tablets.

Even though the instant replay will give coaches a chance to correct some calls, they cannot use the challenge on penalties such as holding.

“I think a lot of the instant replays will be used on spot issues,” Taylor said. “Meaning where a player was down.”

Andalusia will have three cameras in use for the instant replay, two sideline cameras and one in the end zone.

The AHSAA would not comment on how much the equipment will cost individual schools, but area head coaches said that it could cost up to $4,000, which could make it cost prohibitive for some schools.

“I still have a lot of mixed feelings about this,” Opp High School Head Coach Brent Hill said. “If they are really serious about this then why not make it financially available for all school systems?”

DVsports said that they could not release how much the equipment would cost, but that it would be at a minimal.

“I don’t know if high school systems’ budgets are set up for this new payment,” Hill said. “The school supports us and the community supports us, but at the end of the day I think this will add more pressure on the booster clubs and the schools.”

Even though Hill does not know about the financial aspect of the idea, he would love to see OHS use it within the year.

“I believe that Alabama is way ahead in the game,” Hill said. “I came from Tennessee and we had nothing like this, so to see Alabama come in with this technology it is amazing. And I think if we had had this a couple of years ago, we wouldn’t have been beaten in the playoffs.”

Florala High School and Straughn High School also don’t expect to add the technology this year.

“I don’t think that it is going to be one of our priorities,” SHS Head Coach John Higgins said. “We have a few things to figure out before we use that.”

Higgins said that he thinks it is a good idea for high school football, but they have to worry about other finances first.

“I remember a play where instant replay would have been very helpful,” Higgins said. “The rival team we were playing against got a first down and they measured it again and it said they were short, but they could not overturn the first down. I’m not saying we could have won the game if we could have gotten that first down overturned, but it would have at least given us a chance.”

FHS Head Coach Scott Mason said that he had been contemplating this idea as it was unfolding, but he is up against the wall with other expenses.

“We have so many other expenses right now such as travel costs and new uniforms,” Mason said.

Mason believes that the introduction of instant replay will help the officials of the game.

“The officials do everything they can to get the call right,” Mason said. “So I think this will take a little pressure off of the referees and that should draw more interest for people to be an official.”

Instant replay is not mandated at all games, but according to the AHSAA, schools in larger classifications and wealthy areas, are expected to buy the equipment.