GOSHEN — More than the spread option, more than offseason weightlifting, the biggest trend in high school football these days is making the game safer.
At John S. Burke Catholic High School, the Eagles are pioneering a new helmet technology.
Burke Catholic’s football players have been wearing the Guardian protective helmet cover through their summer schedule. On the first day of practice, every varsity and jayvee player had a Guardian cap over their helmets.
“What it does is it reduces impact,” said Burke Catholic head coach Ed Van Curen, Jr. “If you’re getting that head-to-head contact, it reduces impact by up to 33 percent. Our philosophy was, something is better than nothing and if it doesn’t work, it’s like not having them on. If it does work, being a small school and with every athlete being import to us, it possibly helps keep athletes on the field. If it protects a kid from having problems down the road with concussions or head injuries, it’s well worth it.”
Guardian, an Atlanta-based company, has supplied the helmet caps to many high schools around the country. A handful of SEC teams have also worn them through their spring and summer practices. Burke Catholic is believed to be one of the only high school teams in New York using the product this season.
The lightweight, soft foam cap attaches to the helmet with loops through the facemask and adjusts to fit with a velcro strap in the back. They look similar to the headgear worn by rugby players and soccer goalkeepers.
“The majority of kids that play sports at the high school level, they’re going to go on to college and they’re going to graduate and they’re going to be fathers and husbands and role models in society and community leaders,” Van Curen said. “There is life after athletics. If I can do something to just protect them a little more and give them a little assistance so they can be productive fathers and husbands, than so be it.”