It wasn't that long ago when coaches from teams in the Illinois state football playoffs would drive several hours to exchange game film with the next opponent.
Besides eating up gas and time, there was always the little matter of which coach got stuck making the drive to do the exchange.
Last season O'Fallon High coach Brandon Joggerst drove to Bloomington twice to exchange film with Panthers' playoff opponents Pekin and St. Rita.
"Usually I would head up and bribe somebody or buy them lunch to go with me," Joggerst said.
But thanks to new technology, many teams across the state now can simply log on to the Hudl.com web site and trade game films. That game film can be viewed and dissected not only by coaches, but by every player on the team as often as they want since they all have log-ins to retrieve the information.
Columbia High football coach Scott Horner, whose team faces Harrisburg on Satuday in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs, said it has been a while since he sent coaches to scout opponents in person.
"I haven't sent a scout in probably six or seven years," Horner said. "We just scout film and that's it. We used to do that (in person), but other than getting a good feel for the speed and maybe some special teams thing that you don't see on film, I don't know what else."
Horner used Hudl.com to swap two games films with Harrisburg, avoiding a long drive to meet another coach halfway with DVDs.
While returning home Friday night from its 37-35 Class 8A first-round win over Homewood-Flossmoor in Chicago, the O'Fallon coaching staff didn't just plug in headphones and fall asleep.
Traveling on a bus with wireless Internet service, Joggerst and crew uploaded their game film onto Hudl.com while second-round opponent Lyons was doing the same thing.
"By the time we got home we already had the games there waiting for us," Joggerst said. "It's a tremendous time-saver. With technology you still want to try to add more and more and get as much out of it as you can, but as far as saving time it's been tremendous."
Joggerst said that technology came through again Oct. 20 when the playoff pairings were announced.
"After the pairings were announced, we'd already made contact with Homewood-Flossmoor and had game tapes exchanged by 10:30 online," he said.
In the week leading up to Columbia's 57-22 first-round victory over Mt. Carmel on Saturday, Horner and his coaching staff broke down game film looking for tendencies and potential weaknesses that might help the game plan.
Horner credited Columbia's scout team, which mimics the opposing team's best players and runs through their plays, for its role in the victory. The scout team helps the defense knows what's coming and adds an extra sense of preparation.
Columbia's defense had five interceptions and seven turnovers in the first-round win and players and coaches alike both credited the scout team's diligent work in learning Mt. Carmel's plays.
"That was a huge situation last week," Horner said. "There were some tendencies that we felt like we found with them as far as giveaways in certain formations. But for the most part, it's getting enough repetition in practice on their best plays, their big pays, things that they like."
But even as downloaded game film has replaced DVDs, which replaced VHS tape and the really old Super 8 game films, coaches are still looking for ways to gain every possible advantage.
That means networking with friends both in and out of the coaching business in an effort to gain as much information on opponents as possible.
Many conference have an unspoken run about not trading films outside the conference, but that usually won't stop the phone calls, texts and emails seeking information.
* The East St. Louis-Edwardsville rematch at Edwardsville on Friday night features two of the top defenses south of Chicago.
In the regular season meeting Sept. 9, East St. Louis stopped the Tigers three times inside the 25-yard line in the final quarter of a 14-7 Southwestern Conference victory. A late fumble recovery at the Flyers' 2-yard line finally sealed the win.
It was the only loss this season for Edwardsville, while East St. Louis suffered both of its losses against nationally ranked opponents the first two weeks.
* Joggerst once played quarterback for Harrisburg, Columbia's second-round playoff opponent, and his father was the head coach there as well.
* Turning in perhaps the best one-man performance in the first round of the playoffs was Columbia High senior Eric Read.
The wide receiver and defensive back returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown against Mt Carmel, caught a 10-yard TD pass, scored on a 50-yard interception return and also ran for a 30-yard touchdown.
"In terms of what I've been a part of, yeah, it was pretty special," Horner said. "It was pretty amazing to watch a kid have a day like he did. Most kids dream of having things like that happen in a season -- and he did it in one game. He's a pretty special player and we've got a lot of kids like that."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.