AHSAA to 'experiment' with instant replay in high school football

AHSAA to 'experiment' with instant replay in high school football
The AHSAA will be experimenting with the use of instant replay in high school football this fall. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The landscape of high school football in the state of Alabama could change starting this year. The Alabama High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that they will experiment with the use of instant replay this upcoming season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations granted permission to AHSAA to use instant replay. DVSport, Inc. will partner with AHSAA for instant replay. According to AHSAA, Alabama will join the states of Minnesota and New Jersey in the instant replay experiment all season; Minnesota and New Jersey currently use instant replay in championship games only.

For now, member schools have the option to participate in the use of instant replay, it is not mandatory.

"We are grateful to the NFHS for approving our request. This gives our officials the opportunity to use the same technology coaches have been equipped with on their sidelines to get the call right," said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese.

Together, both the AHSAA and DVSport Instant Replay will study data involving instant replay over the next year with the possibility of expanding instant replay on the high school football level in Alabama to three years.

"Alabama is at the forefront of using cutting-edge-technology in the high school athletics setting and with its deep football roots, it is a perfect place for this partnership to begin." stated DVSport CEO Brian Lowe.

Because participation in the use of instant replay isn't mandatory, there is a chance that all schools may not have the "necessary equipment." AHSAA says if the home team doesn't have the necessary instant replay equipment, instant replay can still be used if the visiting team has the correct equipment.

Instant replay will only be in use at schools that use the DVSport Instant Replay system. AHSAA says no other replay system will be allowed.

For the application side of in-game use.

Next season teams will be granted two challenges per game. Just like in the National Football League, head coaches will have a red challenge flag that they can throw toward an official. The only way officials will recognize the challenge is if the flag is thrown before the next play.

The implications of the use of challenges and instant replay review could affect the entire outcome of games this fall. If a coach challenges a call and the call is reversed, then officials will correct the call and situation. If the challenged call is not reversed and stands, the challenging team will lose both that challenge and timeout. If the challenging team loses a challenge but does not have a timeout remaining, a delay of game penalty will be assessed.

Any onfield call, other than penalties, can be challenged except for: a player throwing a forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage, a team having more than 11 players on a play, and a foul that results in disqualification (targeting, spearing, blindside blocks, fighting, etc.). Officials may, however, either correct or enforce any unsportsmanlike acts.

A play will only undergo automatic review if it is a play in state championship games that happens on either the final play of the fourth quarter, or overtime possessions that could have a bearing on the outcome of the game. In that instance, the play will automatically be reviewed for any "error or misapplication of a rule."

Should a coach request a challenge on a play that is not reviewable, that team will forfeit a timeout or will be assessed a delay of game penalty if they are out of timeouts.

Instant replay will only be used to either allow on-field decisions made by officials to either stand or be reversed. All instant replay reviews will operate as if the official's call is the correct one. A replay official may reverse the call if there is solid, non-doubtful video evidence that proves the on-field call was wrong. If the evidence is indisputable, or leaves any doubt in layman's terms, the ruling on the field will stand as called.

Training in using the new instant replay system will be implemented in select spring games. DVSport will help with providing video and PowerPoints for schools and officials. Camps and workshops scheduled for officials will be scheduled as well.

Savarese said all state championship football games will use the same "replay fan experience" used for SEC games.

As far as pace of play is concerned, it's a minor change. AHSAA predicts instant replay could add between 10 to 20 minutes to the total duration of a high school game.

In some instances, there may be only one camera in use. If this is the case, it could still provide an opportunity to correct an error on the field. One is the minimum camera required for instant replay and there is no maximum requirement or specified location for the camera(s).

DVSport Instant Replay Solutions has provided instant replay in NCAA football since 2005, and is partnered with over 10 collegiate football conferences. DVSport Instant Replay Solutions also provides instant replay for the College Football Playoffs, FCS, D-II, D-III playoffs and NAIA Championship game.

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