By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor
In December, Brent Eckley led the Jackson High (Mo.) football team to its first state championship in the program’s 125-year history. His squad bounced back from an overtime loss in the 2019 title game to run the table for an undefeated season.
Eckley believes his program’s tech culture helped propel the team to the top. He shares which apps and new technology helped lift his team to a state title.
How much of a motivating factor was last year’s loss in the state championship game?
“Our kids were motivated. It was an unsaid thing as motivation to get back there. There wasn’t additional pressure of having to win the first one. One thing we wanted to do was put the guys in position to win that last game. They kept plugging.”
When did you start to get a sense it could be a special season?
“At least a year ago. In January of 2020, I told some fellow coaches we’d be pretty good. I knew we’d be physical. We returned the majority of the players. Once I saw them lift on the first max-out day in February, I thought we’d be a really physical team. We had 290- to 300-pound linemen and good depth at running back. Nobody had to go both ways.”
Did you find any piece of technology particularly helpful in your quest to a state championship?
“There are a couple of things we used. We typically video our practices as well as games. That was in the past, before we got turf. We used a drone. We switched because now we practice in the stadium, and we film practice from the press box. We use SportScope for end zone video and sideline in-game video. It worked smoothly for us in the last seven or eight games. It’s critical to be able to use that in between series. We can make adjustments quickly.”
What platform do you use for communication with your coaches and players?
“The Band app is our communication app. We send out pass sheets to the secondary. I use it for all of the communicating I do. I send out information every Sunday to let them know the schedule for the week. I can update it during the week, but they know they can expect — parents and players — an updated schedule with what time we’re lifting or practicing or leaving.”
Do you use anything for analytics?
“We use RII Sports Technology. They take our video and do a graphic representation of the game so it’s easy to pull tendencies visually. They have dashboards you can look at, and it simplifies it for coaches.”
What about a new piece of technology for strength and conditioning?
“We use one that’s not football-specific, TrainHeroic. It’s for programming strength and conditioning and sharing out with kids on their phones. That’s been really good.”