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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
Taking a swig of water during a brief break on the sideline, Will Daniel looks up and sees a drone circling the football field.
He's not surprised. The Bishop England quarterback is used to seeing the small aircraft as it takes photos and video during the Bishops' practices.
Heading into his first season as the starting quarterback, Daniel quickly grew an appreciation for the drone.
"It shows me things I may not have seen on the field, like where a linebacker was positioned or where holes in the defense opened up," he said.
Drones and other high-tech tools are becoming more prevalent in the sports world, even at the high school level.
This is Bishop England's third season using a drone. Head coach John Cantey remembers asking for donations on Facebook and getting the full amount ($900) from a woman who attended the school in the 1980s.
The technology has improved practices and games, and it's a safer alternative to a staffer sitting in a deer stand with a camera.
Plus, all of the video footage gets uploaded after practice so players can study tape at home.
"It helps on both sides of the ball, especially with our blocking," Cantey said. "Our guys can see what they're doing wrong with more clarity."
A Google search shows that Bishop England was right on time with its drone. Teams in Texas, New York and several other states bragged about their newly purchased aircraft around 2014 and 2015.
In South Carolina, teams are required to alert the S.C. High School League if they plan to use a drone. Rules are pretty loose, other than prohibiting the crafts from flying during games.
At least one other Lowcountry team is currently using a drone. Berkeley High coach Randy Robinson said the team's booster club helped purchase a drone prior to the start of the 2016 season.
The team has small facilities, making it tough to get proper angles during practices. That's where the drone comes in, Robinson said.
"It can go anywhere on the field, so you can send it to particular spots if you want to focus in on one area," he said.
It's especially useful for the Stags when they play 7-on-7 during practice, Robinson added. Players can more easily see their mistakes and make adjustments the next time they hit the field.
"From a defensive back perspective, it's incredibly useful," he said. "You have a full view of what you're doing so you can develop your technique more efficiently."
Drones aren't the clear-cut answers for success. Still, it's worth noting the Stags won just three games the season before they starting using the aircraft.
The past two seasons, they've won nine games and 11 games, respectively.
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