CLEVELAND, Ohio — Collinwood won’t play its first game of the high school football season on Friday because it’s running out of enough helmets.
Coach Greg Wheeler confirmed his team’s predicament on Sunday, which forced the cancellation of the railroad workers’ Week 1 trip to Akron North.
“It’s nobody’s fault,” said Wheeler, who described the helmet shortage as a “perfect storm.”
Wheeler declined to say how many helmets his team needs, but he currently has 20 players. The Railroaders are scheduled to play Week 2 at Independence.
“We hope to have the helmets as soon as possible,” he said. “I’m hopeful for Week 2. We need it.”
Coaches across the region said this summer they were concerned about whether their teams would have enough helmets due to a nationwide supply shortage. Schools in nearby Collinwood in Cleveland felt the brunt of the shortage as Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. said he didn’t think he would have enough helmets for his team, believing that the Tarblooders had about half of what they needed before the start of August. practices.
Since then, Ginn said his team had had enough after some players bought their own helmets. Its roster is made up of around 90 players.
“I’m worried about everyone joining the team,” Ginn said after his team met Aug. 6 in Rocky River, adding that he usually accepts additions once the school year begins.
Wheeler also wants to accept additional students once the school year begins, but wonders if the shortage of helmets will prevent him from doing so.
Riddell, which is the region’s largest helmet supplier and is based in North Ridgeville, issued a statement in late July to Fox 8 which read, “To ensure we are well positioned to complete existing orders, Riddell is no longer accepting new orders for the 2022 season. Riddell will deliver all existing repack orders by the first week of August. Most of the new helmets and shoulder pads in our backlog will ship by the end of August, with the next recall shortly thereafter in September.
The supply shortage has stressed schools far beyond Cleveland city teams.
Holy Name coach Dan Wondolowski said his team didn’t have enough helmets for their acclimatization period at the end of July, but the last ones they needed arrived for training in August.
“A few have a different green color,” Wondolowski said earlier this month, while pointing out the helmets.
Many coaches have credited sales reps at their Riddell schools for finding just enough of what they needed, whether it was a specific pad or just a part of a helmet that needed repair. .
“Even thigh guards and knee pads are expensive,” said a trainer.
Some schools have shared headsets. A trainer said last week that he had just painted a loaner helmet received from a nearby school.
“Expect some to look a little off,” he said.
Many coaches have expressed greater concern over whether their college and youth levels will have enough equipment.
Uniforms are also at a premium.
Chardon coach Mitch Hewitt, coming off the school’s second Division III state championship, needed about 20 more jerseys because his freshman class was over 60 players. It’s the biggest team Hewitt has fielded, and he noted that some of the extra jerseys will be a little different from the regulars who line up Friday night.
Wheeler would be grateful to have this problem at Collinwood. He and his players have to watch and wait for enough helmets.