Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat Vidalia head football coach Jeff Hancock displays a newly designed helmet at Viking Field Wednesday. The Vikings will wear the freshly decorated helmets this year.
Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat
Vidalia head football coach Jeff Hancock displays a newly designed helmet at Viking Field Wednesday. The Vikings will wear the freshly decorated helmets this year.

Vidalia football helmets get makeover, new logo

Published 12:03am Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vidalia — As a new head coach of a football program, it’s common for coaches to take what the program’s already established and make it their own, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see Jeff Hancock switch some things up at Vidalia.

That’s partially the reason Hancock decided to give Vidalia football helmets an extreme makeover, changing the color to matte red and replacing the Viking horns with a new Viking logo on top of the state of Louisiana.

The change was a no-brainer for Hancock.

“The most obvious thing was the helmet,” Hancock said. “I know they had those helmets for a long time, and it had a lot of tradition. But in terms of the logo, I wanted to stick with the Viking head and use a modern version of it.”

Another reason contributing to Hancock’s decision were all of the transfers that have taken place with Vidalia players leaving to play for Natchez schools, as starting quarterback Stewart Mallory transferred to the Trinity Saints before the season.

That’s why Hancock had a logo designed with the outline of Louisiana displayed prominently.

“When I got here, I heard that kids had gone across the river to some other schools, and so I wanted to instill not only school pride, but state pride,” Hancock said.

For decades, Vidalia wore white helmets with Viking horns on each side of the helmet under head coach Dee Faircloth. Now as an assistant, Faircloth is more than happy to coach a team in whatever color or style helmet Hancock prefers, as he’s repeatedly stated that this is Hancock’s team.

“Jeff said, ‘Coach, what do you think?’ I said, ‘I don’t care Jeff, you can stick a feather in the top of the helmet if you want to,’” Faircloth said.

It didn’t take long for the players to warm up to the helmets, even if they might have given Hancock false confidence about the switch. After seeing it in person, they gravitated toward the change.

“They all told me originally that they liked it, but apparently they were unsure about it until they saw it,” Hancock said. “They were like, ‘well, we were unsure about it before, but it looks good.’”

With a red helmet, gray facemask and blue stripe down the middle of the helmet, Hancock said the helmet turned out better than he originally envisioned. However, he is ready for all naysayers who may rib the new coach about the Louisiana Tech helmet similarities.

“I’ve already had people tell me that they knew I got my master’s (degree) at Louisiana Tech, and I was trying to make it look like LA Tech,” Hancock said.

Along with changing the logo and helmets, Hancock has other changes in store for Vidalia’s program. If all goes according to plan, Hancock will have graphic windscreens hanging on the back of the Vidalia stands, reading “Burn the Boats.” The phrase symbolizes no retreat and no surrender with a callback to Viking warriors burning the boats behind them as they invaded unchartered territory.

Another addition Hancock hopes to have is a wooden pole with the phrase embedded on it for players to hit before entering Dee Faircloth Viking Stadium. And speaking of entering the field, Hancock also aspires to have a new entrance directly across from the Jerry Roberts Fieldhouse, so players won’t have to walk through fans to get to the field.

Hancock hopes these changes will improve the football program and put his own modern spin on Vidalia football, turning the page and entering a new era.

“Every coach wants to make their program their own,” Hancock said.