Guardian Caps are major success for Rifle football | PostIndependent.com

Guardian Caps are major success for Rifle football

Josh Carney
Post Independent
The Rifle Bears are keeping their heads safe, wearing guardian caps during practice.
Kyle Mills/Post Independent

One year after becoming the only program in Garfield County to purchase protective Guardian Caps for its football team, the Rifle Bears can fundamentally say they were a success after one calendar year of use.

Rifle, thanks to the former principal Todd Ellis and the Bears’ booster club, purchased the padded, soft-shell layered caps last summer to wear during practices, reducing the amount of impact on heads during controlled practices.

The caps were designed to add a soft layer to the outside of the hard-shelled helmets, reducing impact on the head up to 33 percent, while also keeping players cooler, according to the Guardian Caps website.

The cap clips onto the helmet around the face mask to create a soft shell around the helmet itself, which allows for easy on-and-off use while also protecting the helmets from wear and tear, keeping them safe for game day.

Last year, just a few weeks into fall practice, head Rifle football coach Damon Wells said the caps were working exactly as the program had hoped when they were purchased, saying that they’d likely keep them past this year.

Fast forward a whole year, and there’s Rifle again utilizing the latest and greatest in safety features for football.

“Even in college football, these caps are becoming more and more prevalent,” Wells said prior to a recent Rifle practice. “If schools that have all these resources at their disposal are willing to invest their time and research into these caps, why shouldn’t we? These have some pretty positive benefits for our kids.”

According to Wells, the Bears had just one concussion suffered in practice last season in the first year using the Guardian Caps. The player who suffered the concussion failed to wear his cap that day, which Wells said is a pretty big testament to the effectiveness of the caps.

“I don’t know that I can articulate just how effective they are,” Wells said. “We didn’t know what the journey was going to be like with these caps. We thought from a safety standpoint that this was going to be worth our time and investment, so we had no problems doing something like this that would benefit the safety with our kids.”

Gone are the sounds of helmets banging together at a Rifle football practice. That’s a good thing for the Bears, because it takes away the year-long wear and tear on the head, especially for linemen, running backs and linebackers, and teaches players to keep their heads out of plays.

“The caps have been a huge benefit to us as a team,” Rifle senior fullback/linebacker Tanner Vines said. “It’s helped us keep our head out of the play, because if you use your head in practice with these caps on, it really bounces you around, and that can get annoying.

“The biggest difference with the caps and without them came in games, simply because your head feels lighter in games compared to practices,” Vines added. “But really, the caps have helped us use our head less in games, which makes the game safer.”

Rifle returns to action Thursday night in Parachute against the Grand Valley Cardinals at Toby LeBorgne Stadium at 7 p.m. The Bears topped the Eagle Valley Devils last Friday at Bears Stadium in Rifle, 49-7, giving Wells his 100th career win with the Bears.