Moose Jaw's Central Cyclones are the first high school football team to get fitted for the innovative Q-Collars for the upcoming season.

Head coach of the Sask Selects football program Zeljko Stefanovic is a champion of the collars, which provide about a pound and a half of pressure on the jugular when used.

“When you put about a pound and a half of pressure, it keeps back about a teaspoon and a half in the cranial cavity, and that extra ....blood in that cranial cavity doesn’t allow the brain to slosh,” Stefanovic said.

Concussions have become a major issue in football over recent decades, as people have become more aware of the long term effects of brain damage.

“Over the last several years, concussion rates have dropped, but one of the issues has been that kids are dropping out of football,” he said. “Football Canada’s numbers are down 40 per cent. They went from 146,000 members to 110,000...

“We’ve done a lot of work in our program to help mitigate some of the issues that the sport has gotten, and some of the bad publicity the sport has gotten over brain injuries. This is another piece of equipment in the players’ equipment bag that will help them mitigate some of these issues that they may run into with brain injuries.”

The Cyclones are the first team in North America to make mandatory use of the collars, but they have been tested in some hot, humid conditions.

“It’s just a little bit of pressure on the jugulars,” he said. “It gives you the same physiological affect as you would get when you’re yawning.”

Stefanovic, who said he won't let his kids go on the field without them, said players in the CFL like Charleston Hughes and Adam Bighill have been wearing the collars.

“They’re wearing it because they feel it’s protecting their brains,” he said. “We’re seeing university teams adopt it, and this is the first high school team in North America that’s actually going to make the collar mandatory. That’s huge when it comes to helping kids with their brain safety.”