JACKSON TWP.  Film study is no longer a group activity for many high school football players.

Sure, there are team film sessions after games in which coaches break down what went right, what went wrong and what needs to change before the next game, but in large part, players can tackle film study individually on their phone, tablet or laptop and for Jackson senior quarterback Jaret Pallotta, that means logging iPhone time in the evening.

“We record all of our practices and with our new offense, it’s important to review everything,” Pallotta said. “Coaches can annotate every snap and send those out and if I’m confused or don’t understand anything, I can call coach (Tim) Budd and ask about it.”

Jackson, like many teams in the area, uses a video service called Hudl. The service allows teams to upload and share video between coaches, players and scouts and each Jackson player has an account they can use to review footage specific to them.

Following a recent seven-on-seven session, Pallotta noted, Budd told players that in order to be allowed to participate in the next such session, they needed to log at least 20 minutes of time watching video from the first one. Because coaches can monitor how much and how often players watch video, keeping tabs on such activity is easy.

Reviewing video has been a part of football long before Hudl or even digital projectors hanging from meeting room ceilings were a reality, but Pallotta admitted that as an underclassman, he didn’t fully appreciate the importance of watching game and practice footage.

Even though his older brother, former Jackson standout and current Dartmouth quarterback Jake Pallotta, preceded him in the starting role with the Polar Bears, Jaret admitted that as a freshman and even a sophomore, he didn’t watch film the way he should have.

“Even in my JV (sophomore) year, I wasn’t as focused on that and on my footwork as I should’ve been,” Pallotta said. “Going to college camps this summer and see how they do things at the next level, they’re all about footwork, core drive and how you handle situations in the pocket.”

Studying video is a good way to work on all of those aspects of the game and even though the schedule will soon change from two-a-days and summer heat to classes, homework and fall foliage for players, keeping up on video work is still a part of the football schedule. 

Once school starts later this month, Pallotta will typically get home from practice around 6 p.m. His first stop is the dinner table, followed by homework and relaxing for a bit before trying to do film study on his phone before bed around 10 or 11 p.m.

On Thursday nights during the season, he’ll typically get a call from his quarterback coach to go over the opponent for that week’s game, what to expect and what to focus on within the offensive game plan.

That game plan will look much different this season as the Polar Bears embrace a spread option look. While the exact manner in which that will change the pace of the game and demands on each player is a work in progress, Budd noted during a recent practice that it’s “time for Jaret to run.”

Knowing that he’ll be asked to run, to read the angles of defensive linemen and either hand the ball off to a running back or pull it out and run himself on many plays has Pallotta working hard to fine tune his footwork and improve his passing accuracy.

“It (accuracy) is a lot more important … last year we were under center more and this year, I’ll be throwing more bubbles (screens), so it’s important to be 100-percent accurate,” Pallotta said. “With the new offense, we have a lot of speed at the skill positions and if I throw a pass behind them, they won’t be running at full speed but the defense will be. If I throw it to the receiver’s upfield shoulder, I hit them in stride and set them up to keep running.”

Success in those areas is partially physical and based on execution in the moment, but much of it stems from what a player does in the days and weeks leading up to the game. Good film study and analysis sets up the ability to execute well in practice, ingrain those habits so they come more naturally during games and allows a player to play without having to think through every move on Friday nights.

It’s all part of a process built largely around seeing plays on a 4- or 5-inch phone screen while sitting on the couch at home, a process Jaret Pallotta and his teammates hope will end with a winning campaign on the field this fall. 

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
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