Texas’ University Interscholastic League has ordered the two largest districts in the 6A division to begin reporting concussion data to the governing body for high school sports.

Staff at those schools must answer more than a dozen questions on each player — such as when the concussion occurred, whether it came from contact with the ground or another player — that are relayed to researchers with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The findings could lead to conclusions about whether field turf is safer than grass as a playing surface, whether playing at night puts players more at risk than day games, or whether the length of time between games factors in concussions.

A primary goal is to determine the frequency of concussions, Cullum said. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that upward of 3.8 million athletic- and recreation-related concussions occur each year in the U.S.

Mouthguard technology

Students in the Stanford engineering department are working on a mouthguard technology that will measure the motion of the head after impacts in an effort to help players avoid dangerous situations in practices and games. About 100 football players from Menlo School and Sacred Heart Preparatory, which are in Atherton, and Archbishop Mitty High School, in San Jose, are participating in the first year of the study. The testing takes place during and after practices.

California team gets ESPN treatment

Displaced by the Woolsey (Calif.) Fire, a Thousand Oaks youth football team was able to prepare for its Super Bowl on its local NFL team’s practice field. Woolsey coach Steve Szakos reached out to local colleges, neighboring communities and other youth league organizations after fires ravaged the area. He took a ride over to Rams facilities to ask for field time in person.

The team practiced in front of ESPN cameras on the day before the game. Fox’s NFL pregame show filmed highlights from its game. The team also received tickets to the Rams’ “Monday Night Football” showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

HUDL on the rise for scouting

The Dallas News reports that only 62 percent of teams still scout opponents in-person. The rest rely on HUDL and digital video rather than assigning JV or middle school coaches to scout opponents from the press box.

The SportsDayHS surveyed 76 area coaches, who said the downside of not scouting in person is the missed opportunity to steal another team’s signals. Nearly half of respondents in SportsDayHS’ poll said that they try to obfuscate their play-calling or signals either “somewhat” or “a great deal.”

New York school’s life-saving response

Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) experienced near-tragedy this fall, but instead served as an example of how lives can be saved if first responders act quickly and proper medical equipment is on hand.

CBA running back Melvin Beard collapsed on the football field on Sept. 14 due to the manifestation of an undetected birth defect called a left coronary artery anomaly. His heart stopped for about 90 seconds as he lapsed into unconsciousness.

Almost immediately after Beard collapsed, five trained medics went into action and ended up saving his life. The medics used an automated external defibrillator, which was stored nearby, to restart Beard’s heart.

Coach Kelley’s next trend

Pulaski Academy (Ark.) coach Kevin Kelley, who earned national recognition for deploying a strategy in which his team never punts and always onside kicks, has another seemingly crazy idea. Kelley found that a new trend emerged for the first time last season: Teams that recorded more plays of at least 20 yards won 81 percent of the time.

He found that when at least three players touched the ball – a trick play with a lateral involved – the percentage for gaining 20 yards rose to around 20 percent.

So, Kelley instituted a new system in which receivers lateral to other receivers after making catches downfield.

About the author

Dan Guttenplan