(By Geno Ludwig/Chewelah Independent)
It is the third week of the football season, and the Chewelah Cougars have not yet played an entire game. They played only one quarter at Bridgeport and came home with a 44-0 win, and last week their game with Liberty Christian was cancelled because of air quality.
This Friday, the Cougars travel to Newport for their first league encounter against an improved Grizzly team that demolished Priest River 29-8 in its opening matchup of the season.
“It’s hard to tell from the film whether Newport had improved that much since we played them in the jamboree or if Priest River did not play very well,” said Coach Levi Hogan, “because the following Friday, Priest River shutout Medical Lake 29-0.
“What I do know is that our team is chomping at the bit to play an entire game of football, and that they can’t wait to get even with Newport after losing to them last year. We’re healthy, we’ve had no injuries because we did not play last week, and we’re tired of playing against each other in practice.
“We spent all of last week working out in the gym because of the smoke. This week we will get back outside and focus all of our attention on preparing and fine tuning for Newport.”
All of the time spent in preparation for Bridgeport and Liberty Christian went into the waste basket, either the one on the computer screen or the one on the floor. It takes anywhere between 12 and 20 hours of homework from one game to the next for a head football coach to critique his team’s previous performance and to make a game plan for the upcoming opponent.
“It takes a lot less time now with a computer than it did before,” explained Hogan.
The Cougar coaches use a software program entitled Hudl to do much of their analyzing and preparing. Before, it was all done with paper, pencil, and an 8mm movie projector.
“I upload our game film into the computer on Friday night after the game,” Hogan Said. “On Saturday morning, I take a first look at the film to get a general idea of how we played. Later in the day, I look at the film one play at a time and add on-screen comments about what we did right and what we need to work on.”
There are usually about 130 plays in a high school football game, so viewing each play—sometimes three or four times each—and writing comments takes an entire Saturday afternoon. For every snap of the ball, Hogan types in the formation, the play, the down and distance, and the yards gained or lost. He then adds his personal comments. As his assistant coaches watch the film, they can also add comments.
Every player on the team has access to Hudl. They can view the game on Saturday morning on their computer or cell phone. Then, when Hogan and his staff finish analyzing each play, they can view the second video of the game that includes comments.
By Saturday afternoon, all of the league’s teams have their videos uploaded to the Hudl library for all league coaches to download.
“League coaches are supposed to have their Friday night games uploaded by noon on Saturday,” said Hogan. “I can go in and download any game I want to look at. Some teams will shoot more than one video, one from upstairs and one from the end zone, and both are available online.
“I download the game film of our upcoming opponent right away on Saturday afternoon and make it available to my coaches and players.”
Now, the easy part is done. Next, Hogan analyzes the opponent’s film, play by play, just as he did with his own team’s video. He looks at offensive and defensive formations and the specific plays they run out of those formations. He looks for tendencies, like which plays does his opponent like to run on certain downs and distances. He evaluates offensive and defensive personnel, looking for strengths to avoid and weaknesses to exploit. With all this information, he can finally sit down and compose a game plan. This is probably how Hogan spends his Sundays.
So, what does Hogan know about Newport?
“Newport did not play last week, just like us, so we only have their film against Priest River from two weeks ago,” he said. “So, we don’t know what they have added to their offense and defense since then.
They have had two weeks to improve since their last game.
“We do know that Newport likes to throw the football. They have a very mobile quarterback. Koa Pancho likes to throw on the run, and, if he does not find a receiver to throw to, he will tuck the ball in and run. He was very effective against Pries River.”
This is the guy Chewelah will have to stop this Friday, and Cougar practices will focus on doing just that. Pancho prefers to throw the ball long, but he will also throw the short screen pass as a change-up.
Newport used a four-two nickel defense against Priest River’s double-slot spread offense. They will not use it this Friday night against the triple-option of Chewelah. The Grizzlies will probably change back to a four-three, or try a five-two. But expect their linebackers to blitz on every play, putting pressure on the Cougar offensive line to block them.
After Newport, the Cougars have one more away game at Freeman, and then they come home to host Deer Park on their new field on Sept. 29.