Siegel Tests Safety Sensors In Football Helmets

Posted at 7:53 PM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 20:56:42-04

Siegel High School has the first football team in Middle Tennessee testing out sensors in their players' helmets to try to prevent players from going back into the game with a head injury.

It's a sport where kids are taught to be tough.

Because of that Siegel High School senior linebacker and co-captain Dalton Frantz welcomes his football team's new helmets.

"It's one of the best helmets I've ever put on my head," he said.

After taking hit after hit he says the new Riddell InSite System sensors can keep his trainer in the loop if he or his teammates take one hit too hard.

"I may not know, but he (the trainer) knows so that's the extra advantage for the team," Frantz said.

Sensors in the front, back, top and both sides of the helmet send a real time alert to trainer Joe Bowker if a player goes over his allotted collision threshold. Thresholds are based on size, position and how many hits that player takes.

"The number will actually come up in the helmet and it'll flash at you and that's how you know to walk over," Bowker said, showing the handheld monitor.

In recent years coaches at Siegel say more and more parents have expressed worries about their child's safety.

"I understand the concern but I still think it’s a great sport, I think theres a lot that can be learned from it," said Head Coach Greg Wyant.

Staff are pretty upfront that the new gear won't solve everything.

"There's not a helmet out there that will prevent concussions," Coach Wyant said, "but what it will do- it will allow us as coaches to identify larger hits that sometimes you're not able to see."

That allows Bowker to examine a player and for coaches to sideline him if needed. 

It's a cause especially important to this team. Cornerback Baylor Bramble spent months in the hospital after a critical head injury last season. He is still recovering today.

"We miss him as a team and we just know we need to be there for him through all phases," Frantz said.

Right now the helmets are just for starters and for players whose parents have chipped in to buy the pricey equipment for their sons.

They cost substantially more than an average helmet at $405 each.

"We bought 18 of them and we had 11 parents pitch in and buy their own," Coach Wyant said.

They say it's another way to look out for their kids who love the game, but don't want their injuries to haunt them after they leave school.

"Eventually I know I'll have to give it up," Frantz said about the sport, "but however long I can play it, I want to play it."

A Riddell spokesperson said 20 other teams are using the sensors in the state including Bearden High School, Cater High School, Christian Academy of Knoxville, Chuckey Doak High School, Daniel Boone High School, Gibbs High School, Greenback High School, Jefferson Co. High School, Maryville High School, Northview Academy, Oakdale High School, Oliver Springs High School, Sevier County High School, The Kings Academy, Lexington High School, Sale Creek Jr/Sr High School, Webb High School, Bethel College and Cumberland University.