Helmet stickers a symbol of success

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Story And Photos By Joe Kusek
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Dalton Boehler (left) and Cade McAllister show off their helmet stickers from games this season.

Dalton Boehler (left) and Cade McAllister show off their helmet stickers from games this season.

The helmets of Cade McAllister and Dalton Boehler show a season of success.

The helmets of Cade McAllister and Dalton Boehler show a season of success.

They’re not very big, maybe a one inch-by-one inch square.

“Not even that big,” offer Dalton Boehler and Cade McAllister in unison.

Not very big, but they mean so much:

Helmet decals.

Stickers, treasured by toddlers, coveted by Laurel High School football players.

The decals – a Locomotive for offense, skull-and-crossbones for defense – represent team and individual success for the Locomotives.

The more success, the more stickers.

Just check the back of a players’ helmet.

“You earn them,” said Boehler, a senior receiver and safety for the Locomotives. “You want to be the one out there with a lot of stickers. You want people looking out on the field, thinking, ‘Boy, he’s got a lot of stickers.’ “

The stickers are given out for myriad reasons, some set by numerical goals others decided by the coaching staff. Team stickers are on a large board in the locker room.

Laurel is also wearing a sticker on its helmets in honor of Dylan Morris, a football player from Lewistown who died in a car accident this season.

Coaches distribute decals earned from the previous game the day before the next game.

“We get into it,” said McAllister, a senior center and nose guard. “We clap and get wild.”

“It sets us up. Gets us ready to go. It helps us get locked in,” Boehler added.

Boehler said there is some good-natured kidding among the players about receiving the small rewards.

“There is a little bit of competition who can get the most stickers,” he said. “Everything is about the team but we joke around about it sometimes.

“The big thing (for the sticker) is the win.”

Some plays are obviously decal worthy, “A touchdown, everybody sees that,” said Boehler. But others deserving plays only show up on film after a closer look.

And sometimes, according to McAllister, a player might plead his case for a decal that might have been missed.

“We’ll be watching film and tell a coach, ‘I think that was a flat-back,’ that’s a sticker,” said McAllister. The lineman added a flat-back block is, “When you drive your opponent all the way to the ground.”

The stickers have been a long-standing tradition, according to head coach Mike Ludwig.

“We had them when I played,” said Ludwig who was a Locomotive back in the late 1980’s. “Karl Matson was the coach. We had footballs and stars. We went to the Locomotive about 10 years ago.”

Boehler and McAllister vividly remember receiving their first stickers for on-field play. Both had earned a sticker sophomore year for being part of the program’s Iron Club.

“I was on the kick-off team and got a tackle. I was pretty excited,” Boehler recalled.

McAllister turned one play into multiple stickers.

“I was playing nose guard,” he remembered of the game against Hardin. “Time out was called and a coach told me, ‘Go make a play!’

“I made the tackle, forced the fumble and recovered it. Got three stickers in one play.”

Both agreed there is a sense of satisfaction from receiving a sticker or two.

“We all get ones, it’s pretty cool to add to your helmet,” said McAllister. “We put the decals on ourselves. You try to do better than last year, to get more stickers than the previous season.”

Boehler concurred.

“I enjoy that,” said Boehler. “You start to fill up your helmet and it feels pretty good.”

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