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Florence Falcons receive Smarter Football grant from Riddell

Posted at 9:31 PM, Sep 17, 2018

FLORENCE – One team in the Bitterroot Valley is doing its part to make football safer. The KPAX Youth Sports Spotlight features a big win versus tough competition for the Florence Falcons.

Last week the Falcons received one of 18 grants from Riddell’s Smarter Football program. More than 1,400 teams from all levels, youth through college, applied for the grant. Riddell spreads out $10,000 between the winners. The Falcons used their funds on new shoulder pads and helmets. Some have new technology that tracks the impact of hits.

Head coach Pat Duchien took over the team last year and has taught the Falcons “hawk tackling” techniques, encouraging players to contact with the shoulder rather than the head, which Duchien hopes becomes the norm.

“I think it’s paramount that programs start taking it over,” said Duchien. “High school football is under scrutiny, football of all levels is under scrutiny right now, and we’re losing numbers left and right. And when you have a bunch of passionate kids and a bunch of passionate coaches playing, what we feel like is, the best sport out there, we have to do whatever we can to try to bring the popularity back and bring safety back to it and keep these kids safe for their future endeavors.”

Duchien runs only 30 minutes of full-contract drills in practice each week to limit the risk of injury for his players. Florence is out to a 3-1 start this season.

The Falcons also received a congratulatory message from Peyton Manning.