Written By: Nick Sabato | Nov 21st 2019 - The Daily Republic
BROOKINGS -- Instant replay made its debut in South Dakota prep football championship games last week and the South Dakota High School Activities Association is deeming it an early success.
Every turnover and scoring play was reviewed in the booth, but play on the field was stopped less than once per game. Through seven championship games, two plays were overturned on touchdowns where replay showed the ball carrier tackled short of the goal line.
Even when officials were called to the sideline to review a play, the process was quick and concise, avoiding elongated breaks in the action that draw criticism at the college and professional levels.
“We hired a Friday night crew to be our replay officials and we’re gathering feedback from them as far as what we can do to improve it or refine it,” SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said. “I think there’s some little tweaks to it are all that I’m looking at from being in the booth for most of the games. Just to make it better for ourselves when we do have those major reviews or simple in-game things.”
There were two technicians in the booth at all times, with one clipping plays as they happened on the South Dakota Public Broadcasting telecast. The other technician assisted with setup, but was also a former NCAA Division I official that was able to provide tips when needed.
Two certified SDHSAA officials were also in the booth, along with another official with a headset on the sidelines. Officials in the booth had the freedom to stop play if a play warranted a review, but in order to overturn a call, the head official on the field and the official in the booth had to agree on the play.
In total, 60 scoring plays were reviewed, along with 14 turnovers and a handful of plays in which the game was paused to review the spot of the ball.
“We had six to eight cameras at our disposal, as opposed to an NFL or college primetime game that has 16-24 cameras,” Krogstrand said. “Knowing we were a little bit limited there, we wanted to make it so that it was so obvious that anybody at home on the couch could say it was ‘no doubt’ (to overturn a call). So, it wasn’t one person’s individual opinion.”
In the coming weeks, the SDHSAA will internally review its own findings, along with taking a look at how replay panned out in championship games of neighboring states such as Minnesota.
Still, Krogstrand would like to simplify what constitutes a review or stoppage in play for the future. There weren’t any controversial plays or calls in the seven games this season, but a situation may arise in the future and the SDHSAA wants to be prepared for such an event.
“The proposal that we had was about a page long and it had some specifics to it,” Krogstrand said. “I’m just looking to refine it and make it more simple and just have two separate criteria of what you can and cannot do with replay. There’s some gray area that’s left up to interpretation and the less interpretation, the more we can say is black and white.”