Leasing helmets helps high school teams cut costs without sacrificing safety

      OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- As football helmets improve in preventing players from getting concussions, high schools must search for the latest models to keep their students safe.

      This can prove to be an expensive task, as technology advancements are made each year.

      Harrisburg graduate Mark Elmblade spent 13 years selling football helmets as a rep for Ridell. He is using that experience to build his new company Armor Zone, which leases football helmets to high schools and youth programs.

      Elmblade had 100 helmets when he began leasing gear nearly four years ago. Now he is leasing more than 1,300 helmets to schools across the state.

      Rather than having schools pay $300 for a new helmet, Elmblade offers fully reconditioned helmets for about $95 for a season.

      "Where we really make it financially good for a school is eliminating the waste. A school having helmets that they've spent on reconditioning that they've bought them and they don't ever get on a kids head," said Elmblade.

      South Albany head coach David Younger said the other benefit is that it takes away any concussion liability from the school and puts it on the helmet manufacturer.

      Younger said it also offers him the flexibility to change helmet colors and keep up with the latest helmet technology.

      Elmblade's next step is hitting California. With stricter regulations, schools in the sunshine state are paying twice what Oregon pays to recondition the helmets.