NORTH PLATTE, Neb-- With participation rates in football on the decline area coaches are speaking up.
"I think now is the safest time to ever play football. I honestly think every kid should play football; it's a great game. I think the guy at North Carolina that said football is kind of the thing that separated America from the other countries in the world, I don't know that that's not true. This is a great game that's unique to our country and in the state of Nebraska. The equipment is the best it's ever been. We're teaching tackling the the best we've ever taught it, blocking is being taught the best we've ever taught it; doctors are treating them the best they've ever treated them," says Brent Bauer, Head Football coach at Ogallala.
With improvements in technique, equipment and rules the state is make sure that coaches are well educated.
"The state does a good job of educating us and I think we do a good job of reducing that problem. We haven't really had a whole lot of concussion problems," says Luke Connell, Head Football coach of the Tryon/ Stapleton join program.
In turn, the coaches are doing what they can to educate their communities.
"We talk to our parents about this. We talk to the kids about this and there is definitely an inherent danger with football but the techniques that the coaches are using now, the guidelines we have to follow as far as how many times we can hit a week; things like that the risk minimization is definitely there," says Bauer.
In Nebraska, Football isn't just sport; it's culture.
"Out here in this are of the state and this area of the country people get up for football. I mean, Nebraska is a football state and I think a lot of the kids understand that and they embrace that and they want to play football because you know they hope one day to be playing down in memorial stadium or in another college stadium in the area or whatever. They've kind of grown up around that so i'd say that's probably one of the main reasons why people around here do participate in football. It is part of our culture, it's in our fabric out here in Nebraska and I think people go along with that," says Scott Jorgensen, Head coach at Paxton.
In this area of the state that culture is synonymous with toughness.
"Ranch community, ranch mentality and they're usually hard nose kids," says Connell.
In conclusion, Friday night lights are still bright in Nebraska