Lonoke’s football Jackrabbits are on the cutting edge of player safety this spring after becoming the first high school program in Arkansas to adopt Riddell’s InSite Impact Response System.

Concussions have been at the forefront of recent discussions about player safety. According to a press release, the system is “the latest in head impact monitoring technology from the world’s leading football helmet manufacturer.”

Coach Taggart Moore said the idea was brought to coaches by a community member.

“We haven’t had too many concussions,” he said. “I’ve been here four years, and we might’ve had three. It’s not been a big scare, but we always want to make it safe for our kids.”

He said his research showed that Riddell made the safest helmet available. The Lonoke administration was interested.

“We talked about maybe getting a few of them, but how do you decide who gets them?” Moore said. “We decided if we were going to do it, we were going to do it for all of our kids. We called the Riddell rep and he told us about the InSite technology that monitors targets and hits. Nobody has done it for their whole program, so we told them, ‘Let’s partner together and be the first.’

“We pitched it to the school board, and they loved that idea. We went with it.”

According to the press release, Riddell InSite features a sensor technology that alerts coaches when a player “experiences significant impacts.”

“There’s a sensor that monitors hits, and the software reads it and we monitor it,” Moore said. “In football, you’re going to take some hits, but if the same player is taking the same hit on the same side over and over, we need to know.”

He said regular price for the helmets was about $500 each with an additional $70-$80 each for the InSite system.

“You don’t have to have the sensor,” Moore said. “You can just get the flex helmet. But we did partner with Riddell and got the cost down quite a bit.

“The helmet has got a portion of the front that flexes so if you hit head-on, the helmet flexes backward so it’s not just a collision. That’s pretty neat.”

In the press release, Moore said: “We believe we can keep our players safer with this new technology. Any time we can become more aware of head injuries in our sport, we should take that opportunity. Through proper technique and our SpeedFlex helmets with InSite technology, we believe we can minimize head injuries for many seasons to come.”

According to the press release, Lonoke Athletic Director Marc Sherrell said he thought such helmet technology was the wave of the future for high school and college football.

“In Lonoke, we decided to be leaders in bringing about this technology rather than jumping on the train at a later date, and we’re excited to give our student athletes the opportunity to use it,” Sherrell said.

Moore said the Jackrabbits were excited about being the first team in Arkansas to use the helmets.

“The coaches know they’re safe and we can monitor them,” Moore said. “For the parents, it just puts their minds at ease knowing they’ve got the best equipment on the market.”