By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KEARNEY, MO (KCTV) -
The high school football season is well underway as area schools officially started practice on Monday, and one area school is taking steps to provide extra protection for their players.
Kearney junior Kale Harmon could not wait for the football season start.
"Oh I can't wait. I love it," he said with excitement.
The problem is Harmon suffered a concussion during baseball season last year and he doesn't want the same thing happening this football season, which is why he supports new Guardian Caps.
"Anything to help reduce injury, I like it," he said.
Kearney is one of just two schools in Missouri to suit up every player in practice with the new Guardian Cap. It's a new padded cap worn outside the helmet.
Coach Greg Jones said player safety should always be the first thought.
"We just felt like it was added protection for our kids, concussions have been such a large topic in the sports arena for the last few years and we've done a lot of study and a lot of research," he said.
The goal of the new Guardian Cap is to soften the blow of helmet-to-helmet and helmet-to-turf injuries, the leading cause of injuries in prep football players.
Developers said it's similar technology used in another popular sport.
"You know NASCAR went to padded walls, where the driver inside doesn't get shaken up as much. Same concert here with different logistics," said Matt Simonds with Guardian Caps.
So far, early feedback on them is positive.
"I think once the kids got used to them, they like them, they believe in them. Our concussion rates have been down," Jones said.
For now the new Guardian Caps are just worn in practice, but as schools learn more about them and the new technology is researched, they may start appearing on Friday nights in some form all over the country.
Right now the Guardian Caps would not be considered legal for games because they attach to the face mask. But that's something the developer and The National Operating Commission on Standards for Athletic Equipment are in discussions about.
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