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UNK Makes National Finals In Helmet Contest

UNK Makes National Finals In Helmet Contest

Kearney, Neb. – Nebraska-Kearney fans can help the Lopers helmet come out on top in the Helmet Bowl III National Championships. The UNK football team, which won the 53rd Mineral Water Bowl last month, has now seen its helmet — Royal Blue with the distinctive Loper logo emblazoned on both sides — advance all the way to the finals where it takes on the Louisville Cardinals. Voting began on Monday, January 6, and runs through noon on Monday, January 13. Helmet Tracker, a company based in Lenexa, Kan., is the sponsor of this competition with the winner being revealed next Monday afternoon in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) national convention in Nashville. NCAA Division III Gallaudet University (Washington D.C.) won the first competition in 2018 with Division III Dickinson (Pa.) College winning last season. The Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA) is also greatly involved in this now annual event with UNK equipment manager Tanner Drews entering UNK’s helmet into the competition for the first time this fall. “With equipment managers, football takes up a lot of our time and helmets are a big source of pride. That’s something everyone looks at when the players go on the field,” Drews said. “”It gets UNK’s name out there. Until they won the Helmet Bowl no one has ever really heard of Gallaudet or Dickinson.”

The 64-team national bracket consists of 60 conference winners and four at-large picks. UNK won a four-team MIAA race back in September by beating Northeastern State in round one and then Central Missouri to claim the league title. The national bracket/competition has a total of six rounds; to date Loper Nation has beaten Wyoming, NAIA Dakota Wesleyan, Division II Texas-Permian Basin, Kansas State and Gallaudet to reach the finals. UNK slipped past K-State by just a vew votes while downing GU by a 53%-47% margin and UTPB 52%-48%. “Very surprised (on reaching the finals). We’ve already beaten two Division I schools and I follow Wyoming and Kansas State equipment (social media) accounts. Beating K-State was huge because those guys take pride in what they do and have a lot more resources and fans than UNK,” Drews said. As many UNK fans know the current Loper logo was designed by former offensive lineman Dan Whelan. The talented graphic designer received a 2012 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from UNK after creating the logo in his senior illustration class. He currently is Vice President of Gaming Product Development for Incredible Technologies in his native Illinois. Whelan has been with that company since 2001. Loper fans can help make sure UNK gets past UL by going to www.helmettracker.com, logging in and then voting. Please vote daily and spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to tell others about the contest. “They initially used an in-game picture of our blue helmet with the white Loper decal. That’s our default decal and we’re proud of that and wear it most games. But you have to show something flashy out there … Louisville has their chrome helmet. So I submitted a picture with our gold decal and that’s the one that has been carrying us.”

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