The Best Helmet in Pennsylvania High School Football: State Tournament Preview

Over the past couple of weeks, 563 teams have battled through 198 polls to determine who has the best helmet in Pennsylvania high school football. Now – following more than 72,000 votes – only 12 remain. It’s now time for the state tournament to decide who has bragging rights over the rest of the state.

How It’ll Work:

Instead of getting into the messy business of giving byes for a 12-team bracket, @thesteelersnat, @END2008 and I chose to have the state tournament decided via four regions of three teams apiece. The district champions will be grouped roughly by geography into the following pods:

Western PA Pod

  • Maplewood (D10 Champ)
  • Albert Gallatin (D7 Champ)
  • Carrick (D8 Champ)

Central PA Pod

  • St. Marys (D9 Champ)
  • Bishop Guilfoyle (D6 Champ)
  • Conemaugh Township (D5 Champ)

Northeastern PA Pod

  • Williamsport (D4 Champ)
  • Wyoming Area (D2 Champ)
  • East Stroudsburg South (D11 Champ)

Southeastern PA Pod

  • Marple Newtown (D1 Champ)
  • Wilson West Lawn (D3 Champ)
  • St. Joseph’s Prep (D12 Champ)

The Western and Central pods will be posted Saturday and the Northeastern and Southeastern pods will be posted Sunday. On Tuesday, the Western/Central semifinal and the Northeastern/Southeastern semifinal will be posted. Finally, the state championship poll will be posted Thursday and will be the only poll to remain open for 48 hours instead of 24.

I reached out via Twitter to each of the district champions to get a little more insight to their helmet design and its story. Let’s meet the contenders:

WESTERN PA POD

Maplewood

The Helmet

District 10 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • Round 1: earned 44.5% of the vote, beating out Farrell and Sharpsville
  • District 10 Semis: earned 44.2%, beating out Fairview, Slippery Rock & Franklin
  • District 10 Final: earned 52.3%, beating out Grove City and Kennedy Catholic

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Head Coach Bryan Borkovich, who said each helmet takes 10-15 minutes to stripe:

Albert Gallatin

The Helmet

District 7 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

 They Got Here

  • Round 1: earned 46.2%, beating out Bentworth, Apollo-Ridge & Beth-Center
  • District 7 Quarterfinals: earned 41.8%, beating out Beaver Area and Avonworth
  • District 7 Semifinals: earned 42.3%, beating out Belle Vernon and Canon-McMillan
  • District 7 Final: earned 38.8%, beating out Pine-Richland and Woodland Hills

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Head Coach Drew Dindl:

Carrick

The Helmet

District 8 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 8 Semifinals: earned 58.2%, beating out Allderdice and Westinghouse
  • District 8 Final: earned 51.8%, beating Brashear

CENTRAL PA POD

St. Marys

The Helmet

District 9 Champion Helmet (1)

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 9 First Round: earned 61.1%, beating out Brockway, Curwensville & Moniteau
  • District 9 Semifinals: earned 40.7%, beating out Bradford and Brookville
  • District 9 Final: earned 51.6%, beating Cameron County

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Head Coach Chris Dworek:

Our helmet design was an idea from one of our coaches, Coach Mike Kunes.  He’s from St. Marys, played for them and has coached for them for a while now.  He’s been using that logo for the last few years on other, small things.  [The helmet has an] anchor chain down the middle (the players came up with that idea) and the other side of the helmet (it’s the players number which is a tribute to some old St. Marys helmets back in the day).  They’re pretty sharp.  The kids liked the entire helmet look and voted on it last Spring.  Some of the Brookville guys and my guys have become friends and each group has commented about how sweet each schools’ helmets look.

Coach Kunes also designed the Cameron County helmet, which means he is the creator of both finalists for District 9’s best helmet.

Bishop Guilfoyle

The Helmet

District 6 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 6 First Round: earned 46.3%, beating out Glendale, Penn Cambria & West Branch
  • District 6 Semifinals: earned 31.3%, beating out Forest Hills, Johnstown & Hollidaysburg
  • District 6 Final: earned 38.1%, beating out Richland and State College

The Story Behind the Helmet

From the team’s Twitter account:

Conemaugh Township

The Helmet

District 5 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 5 Semifinals: earned 74.5%, beating out Bedford, North Star & Somerset
  • District 5 Final: earned 65.3%, beating out Berlin-Brothersvalley and Meyersdale

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Conemaugh Township coach Wayne Adams:

Adams said that the decals are put on each year by Sportsman’s Sporting Goods in Johnstown and that parts of the helmet assembly must be removed and then reattached to add the design.

NORTHEASTERN PA POD

Williamsport

The Helmet

District 4 Champion Helmet

Williamsport has the chance to pull off a pretty remarkable feat. Last summer, I ran a similar tournament that named the Millionaires as the best nickname in the state. For that tournament, I removed duplicate nicknames (Tigers, Lions, etc.) and only included unique nicknames, which totaled a little over 100. If Williamsport manages to win the helmet bracket, they would take the crown over 562 competitors.

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 4 First Round: earned 36.2%, beating out Central Columbia, Midd-West & Selinsgrove
  • District 4 Semifinals: earned 52.9%, beating out Loyalsock Township and Shamokin
  • District 4 Final: earned 42.0%, beating out Lewisburg and Danville

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Assistant Coach Keith McCabe:

The logo (top hat, cane, gloves, carnation) was designed back in the early 1960s (1961-63 era) by Thomas Mikan. Thomas was a student in the sign-painting program at Williamsport Technical Institute, predecessor of Pennsylvania College of Technology. As you may know the in the late 1800s, Williamsport had more Millionaires per Capita than any other city in the world, and was known as the “Lumber Capital of the World.” Many became rich due to trade and Susquehanna River. To this day, there still sits “Millionaires Row” on W fourth St, with all the Victorian homes that the millionaires lived in.

Helmet Facts:

  • We did not display the Top Hat & Cane logo on the helmet until 2013. Prior to that our helmets were blank, or used various “W’s” over the years. Most frequently the Wisconsin “W”.
  • The CURRENT helmet design was debuted in 2016. Coach Crews second season with the team. For the first time in our school history we changed our helmet color to black. Our school colors are Cherry & White and remained our helmet colors for all the years prior. Black has been a secondary color but goes with the black top hat appeal in our opinion. The diamond stripes running down the center of the helmet, pay homage to our old stadium (prior to turf) that displayed cherry & White Diamond endzones, along with yardage numbers.

Wyoming Area

The Helmet

District 2 Champion Helmet (1)

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 2 First Round: earned 32.4%, beating out Delaware Valley, Lake-Lehman & Scranton
  • District 2 Semifinals: earned 44.3%, beating out Crestwood and Dallas
  • District 2 Final: earned 46.4%, beating out Old Forge and Lakeland

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Wyoming Area broadcast team member Frank D. (@wascoreboard):

The Warrior helmet has undergone many designs and redesigns in the fifty plus years of the program. The current version is based off of the Wyoming Area School seal and is a redesign of the version used in the late 70s and early 80s. It was developed by PA State Hall of Fame Coach Paul Marranca and current Asst Head Coach Mike Fanti. Given our recent history; it’s likely to be around for a while.

As far as interesting things about the helmet…the program started in 1967 with what was essentially a plain gold helmet…..at the annual Unico games each summer; the kids wear stickers from teams on their side of the Susquehanna River on their own helmets for the contest. The Warrior sticker is always one of the most sought after.

Wyoming Area’s helmet features a depiction of the Wyoming Monument, built to memorialize the victims of the Wyoming Massacre in the late 1700s.

East Stroudsburg South

The Helmet

District 11 Champion Helmet (1)

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 11 First Round: earned 33.8%, beating out Northampton, Pocono Mountain West & Williams Valley
  • District 11 Semifinals: earned 34.8%, beating out Pottsville, Emmaus & Notre Dame
  • District 11 Final: earned 36.8%, beating out Nazareth and Shenandoah Valley

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Head Coach Matt Walters:

Prior to Ed Christian becoming head coach at East Stroudsburg, the Cavalier helmet was purple and the logo was a block “E”. In 1981, Ed Christian replaced Dick Merring as head coach. Ed and his staff took a trip down to the University of North Carolina for a coaches clinic, and liked the look of interlocking letters on the Tarheels helmet. The interlocking ES was put onto the purple helmet that fall and has been on Cavalier helmets ever since.

In 2004, Head Coach Ed Christian, assistant coach Tony Rose, and longtime program friend Ted Monica added the Cavalier swords to the interlocking ES logo, inspired by the University of Virginia swords under their “V” logo. For the past 16 seasons, the logo and purple helmet have remained the same. There have been a few additions and deletions of different stripes and add-ons, but the tradition of the interlocking ES with swords (with a little inspiration from two college football programs) have been a staple of East Stroudsburg football.

*As long as I’m here at East Stroudsburg South, that Logo and helmet will never change! Who am I to change the tradition and history of our high school?*

SOUTHEASTERN PA POD

Marple Newtown

The Helmet

District 1 Champion Helmet MN

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 1 First Round: earned 41.3%, beating out Chichester, Pottstown & West Chester Henderson
  • District 1 Quarterfinals: earned 48.8%, beating out Coatesville and Radnor
  • District 1 Semifinals: earned 43.2%, beating out Pope John Paul II and Neshaminy
  • District 1 Final: earned 51.5%, beating Perkiomen Valley

The Story Behind the Helmet

From the Marple Newtown Athletics Twitter account (@MNAthletics):

The Tiger design is the district Tiger that we all use. We started wearing this helmet in 2015.

Before that was a black helmet with an orange paw. Before that (basically the 90’s) black helmet with Tigers in orange written in cursive. Before that (some of 80’s) black helmet with Tigers in white cursive. Before that we did have a orange helmet with MN in black on it. Legendary Coach Jim Smith was famous for coming up with cool designs. He coached from 1987-1997 and he was also the AD for a number of years.

Wilson (West Lawn)

The Helmet

District-3 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 3 First Round: earned 54.1%, beating out Conrad Weiser, Hempfield (3) & Palmyra
  • District 3 Quarterfinals: earned 46.6%, beating out Northern York, Harrisburg & Wyomissing
  • District 3 Semifinals: earned 46.9%, beating out Warwick and Daniel Boone
  • District 3 Final: earned 50.6%, beating Red Lion

The Story Behind the Helmet

From Coach Joe Mays:

I know the exact same helmet design was used from 2000-2007 (white helmet, red facemask, single red stripe, red bulldog) and 2008-2015 (same as 2000-2007 but white facemask), and 2016-2018 (same as 2008-2015 but the red was now chrome red – a big deal for Dahms.

St. Joseph’s Prep

The Helmet

District 12 Champion Helmet

Helmet History (from the PA High School Helmet Project)

How They Got Here

  • District 12 First Round: earned 65.0%, beating out Academy of Palumbo, Father Judge & Neumann-Goretti
  • District 12 Semifinals: earned 50.0%, beating out Mastery North, Northeast & Archbishop Ryan
  • District 12 Final: earned 53.2%, beating out Imhotep Charter and LaSalle

So there you have it – all twelve finalists. The polls may not open until Saturday, but let the debate begin now!

One thought on “The Best Helmet in Pennsylvania High School Football: State Tournament Preview”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s