The sports world might be at a standstill right now, but that doesn’t mean that the world is void of sports action. That’s where the Helmet Battle Bracket Challenge comes into play.
The Helmet Battle Bracket Challenge has been the newest way for high school football fans in the state of Iowa to engage in gridiron action. The challenge, which began last week, has posted over 128 different high school football helmets from across the state of Iowa, in a four bracket-style tournament through Twitter. Each team was grouped into four separate brackets. Twitter users were able to vote for the right for each helmet to move on.
The idea originated from the mind of Maquoketa Valley High School head football coach Trevor Arnold.
“I’m a Twitter guy as it is and I think there’s a lot of great things that can come through Twitter whether it’s football culture, teams, you name it,” began Arnold. “Recently I saw other states do it and I thought why not Iowa so I jumped on it. I started with the idea on Thursday and by Saturday, I had over 100 helmets involved.”
The state-wide excitement also held a local twist as two Dallas County schools were in action. One of those schools included ADM featuring their all-black helmets that have witnessed the Tigers secure back-to-back winning seasons. ADM’s helmets have been turning heads the past few seasons but now they’ve turned heads across the entire state.
“I thought it was a fun idea to pass the time during this delayed break,” said Tiger head coach Garrison Carter. “It was fun to see how popular our helmet design was statewide. I think we ended up finishing with the ninth most votes for the ‘coolest’ helmet in the entire state.”
The Tiger helmet made a strong push through the Gary Swenson bracket and continued to show the theme behind the helmet style in the first place.
“Our mantra is ‘Tough Teams Win,’” Carter said. “We thought the all-black helmet look was a good representation of that brand. It was a cool thing to see because we got to see every helmet in the state on display. I thought it was cool that there wasn’t another school that had anything like ours.”
The brackets included the Gary Swenson bracket, the Jerry Pezzetti bracket, the Curt Bladt Bracket and the Robert Sanger bracket. The Mustang football helmet resided in the Jerry Pezzetti bracket.
“I really liked the way coach Arnold based the brackets off of legendary coaches within the Iowa high school football world,” said Dallas Center-Grimes head coach Scott Heitland. “I think that really put a unique Iowa football spin on it that you just can’t get anywhere else.”
Another aspect that both coach Carter and coach Heitland enjoyed was a more even playing field where class held no value.
“The great thing about this is that it’s unbiased to school size,” began Arnold. “It doesn’t care about how big or small your school is, just about what people thought of your helmet. We had MMC defeat Dowling Catholic and I thought that was super cool just to happen.”
What came about from a small idea has spread like wildfire, showering the state of Iowa with excitement during this downtime, and now, is showing interest on a national level. That interest, while not in the initial cards, was something that coach Arnold himself started seeing as an actual reality.
“The plan is to grow this beyond Iowa,” said Arnold. “I’m already in contact with AU Concepts and Designs out of Oklahoma and other states. The idea is to start up a national bracket with all 50 states involved even when the COVID-19 pandemic dies down. It’s really turned into a special thing that I’d like to see grow even more.”
As it sits right now, states like Wisconsin and Illinois have started to do their own high school helmet bracket challenge based off of what has transpired here in Iowa. The interest grew so much that there will be another version coming up in the spring.
As for the first edition of the Helmet Battle Bracket, Lewis Central High School was crowned helmet champions with 3,025 votes, defeating Underwood for the crown.