New Jersey may become first state to use video replay for high school football

Photo: Kathy Johnson,

New Jersey is looking to become the first state in the country to allow game officials to utilize video technology to review play calls in high school football.

Carmine Picardo, coordinator of football officials for the NJSIAA, said the statewide athletic association is exploring the possibility of implementing a pilot program in which select schools would voluntarily participate.

Only schools who use HUDL Sideline, a wireless program that allows game action from press box and end zone angles to be instantly replayed on a tablet device, would be eligible.

Picardo said NJSIAA Assistant Director Jack DuBois will be reaching out “in the next couple of days” to the National Federation of High School Associations, whose approval for replay review at the scholastic level is required.

“He’s going to try to feel them out to see if they have any interest at all in allowing New Jersey to experiment with replay review,” Picardo said. “If they have an interest, we are going to sit down and write up a formal proposal to see if we can get them to give us permission next season to experiment with replay review.”

The Alabama High School Athletic Association is in the process of submitting a similar proposal to the national federation, according to AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones.

“We hope to be experimenting next year,” Jones said. “We are still determining to what extent the NFHS may give approval. I just think this will be great for high school sports. If we can get the call right, why not get the call right?”

The NHFS currently allows coaches to utilize video review on the sidelines during games as a teaching tool for players who come off the field following a specific down or series of downs. Texas and Massachusetts are the only states whose athletic associations currently prohibit coaches from reviewing video with their players on the sidelines.

Picardo said he believed any NJSIAA proposal submitted to the NFHS would be for permission to review only plays involving fumbles, catches, touchdowns and out-of-bounds calls. Picardo said he believed the NJSIAA would ask the NFHS for permission to review play calls in select scrimmages and regular-season games for the first year of a proposed pilot program, with the hope of expanding the program in future seasons. Picardo said he believed the proposal would allow each coach to challenge one play per half and to possibly allow officials to review any plays in the final two minutes of a game. Picardo said a replay official would not be required and that game officials could review the play using one of the team’s tablets on the sidelines.

“If we had a play – say a fumble that was questionable, whether it was a knee on the ground or not – we have now the technology to go back to that play and watch it potentially from two angles and maybe be able to see if it was a fumble or not,” Picardo said.

“The potential to have replay in high school football is there. The technology is there. I think without a doubt we would have many schools want to participate in a game with video replay. If they can get an egregious mistake fixed that may or may not cost them a game, they would go for it.”

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