One word, “scary,” came to the minds of Scott Abernathy and David Feaster on Tuesday. The Louisiana high school head football coaches both view Hudl.com as an integral part of their football programs.
Tuesday, The Times reported that undefeated Destrehan (La.), the No. 5-ranked football team in Class 5A, is under investigation by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association for a possible cheating method that could break ground in this state.
It appears, through a South LaFourche (Cut Off, La.) player, Destrehan’s staff got hold of South LaFourche’s username and password and spent roughly 12 hours on Hudl, a website that can house comprehensive amounts of game film, practice film, schemes and playbooks for football teams.
Destrehan (5-0 in District 7-5A) more than doubled up its league opponent South LaFourche (4-4, 3-2), 49-24, on Friday.
“We’ve never dealt with anything like this before,” LHSAA executive director Kenny Henderson told The Times on Tuesday. According to Henderson, the LHSAA “visited” Destrehan, located along the Mississippi River about 20 miles west of New Orleans in St. Charles Parish, on Monday.
“We’re doing an investigation and I can’t tell you more than that because it’s an ongoing investigation and, honestly, I just don’t know what to tell you,” Henderson said.
According to a release by South LaFourche sent Tuesday, “the alleged violations involve improper and unauthorized access by certain Destrehan coaches to practice video of the South Lafourche team during the week of practice prior to the game.
“The viewing of the video of SLHS practices, in the view of the administration and coaches of SLHS gave Destrehan an unfair competitive advantage and was a violation of sportsmanship, ethics and fair play, and potentially exposed South Lafourche High School players to an increased risk of injury.”
South LaFourche is seeking a forfeit.
“It’s not the New England Patriots, but it is a big deal,” said Feaster, the head coach of Parkway, the No. 2 Class 5A team in the state. “I hope they address it and come down on them.”
While Feaster’s team utilizes Hudl, he does not yet put game plans on the website. On the other hand, everything plus the kitchen sink regarding North DeSoto football can be found on Hudl.
“It’s real scary for us,” said Abernathy, the Griffins’ head coach. “We send kids a lot of game-plan-specific presentations – drawings and specific ways we might line up.”
Every player under Abernathy and Feaster has access to the information on Hudl thanks to unique usernames and passwords. Coaches can monitor how much time each player spends on the site watching film.
Until Tuesday, the concern was players not watching enough.
“If one of our kids has watched 10 hours of film, something’s probably rotten in Denmark,” Abernathy said.
Abernathy says the coaching staff monitors the players’ interaction about once a week.
“Theoretically” Feaster says he can manage the security surrounding privileged information.
“But I have not been diligent,” Feaster said. “One of my players could give the info to Haughton right now and I probably would never know about it.”
Abernathy says it’s just a matter of “trust.”
In terms of a punishment for Destrehan, Abernathy isn’t quite sure which way the LHSAA would go.
“Hudl is not sanctioned, but they encourage using it because it’s a sponsor,” Abernathy said. “It’s a unique situation. They need to somehow punish the child, but it’s going back to the (Bill) Belichick thing. If people aren’t going to be honest, they aren’t going to be honest.
“There needs to be some type of fine or something that shows it’s not going to be acceptable. The LHSAA is consistent if they have a rule in place. There is nothing in place in this scenario.
“They encourage that no one films another opponent, so I’d have to look and see how they’ve handled punishing that.”
Abernathy does guarantee one thing: The next LHSAA rule book will address information on websites such as Hudl.
“There will be a rule; I promise you,” he said. “I bet the principal from Destrehan will try to put something in place for sure.”
Roy Lang III also writes for the Shreveport (Miss.) Times.