RANCHO CORDOVA -- Under the Friday night lights, some watch the players' hands, others track their feet, but in Rancho Cordova coaches and trainers track what’s happening on their players' heads.
Screens are connected to the helmets the Cordova High School football team has been wearing since 2016. Coach Gary Lawrence says the devices will notify them of any player who has been hit.
Senior quarterback Johnele Sanders says the sensors are needed to say things the players often won’t.
"When it does go off we have to pull that player off the field as soon as we possibly can," Lawrence said.
The program is crediting that technology with a drop in concussions from 9 percent per player in 2015 to less than 3 percent in 2017.
The technology puts some other impressive numbers on the board. According to the school, football participation is up 36 percent.
"When I played football in Texas I actually suffered from a mild concussion," said student Jakob Russell. "Coming here helped me feel safer. My family feels safer with the new concussion sensors."
Of course, new technology rarely comes cheap. That’s where a grant and partnership between the City of Rancho Cordova, the school district and the helmet manufacturer came in.
"Across the board, we’re supporting sports activities and we want to make all of them safe," said City Councilman David Sander. "So we do Positive Coaching Alliance. We do special training, depending on the sport. And in football's case, it just requires a little more intervention to make the sport really safe."