VILLA GROVE (WCIA) — Heath Wilson is getting impatient and it’s hard to blame him. The Villa Grove football coach ordered six new helmets last November and they have yet to arrive. The season started Monday with the first practice, meaning he has kids either without a helmet or in a helmet that’s too small.

“It’s not 100% resolved,” Wilson said. “We still have key players that are still waiting on helmets.”

Those players and Wilson are not alone. A national helmet shortage is to blame, with the country’s top produces, Riddell and Schutt, both backlogged. Wilson and other coaches have been told supply chain issues are to blame but regardless of the reason, it’s leaving programs in peril trying to figure out how to properly equip kids to play. Both new orders and helmets sent in for refurbishing are both delayed.

Fortunately for Wilson, he was able to get in contact with other area coaches who had a surplus. Maroa-Forsyth head coach Josh Jostes sold Wilson two extra helmets he had, providing at least a temporary aid until the full order comes in.

“Maroa reached out and said, ‘Hey, we can help you out if you need help,'” Wilson said. “And it’s just great having high school coaches that are willing to step up. And even if they’re not, they’re kids. You know, they care about high school football and want to help out every program.”

“We really appreciate it,” Villa Grove senior running back Luke Zimmerman said about the gesture from Maroa-Forsyth. “I mean, we don’t play them, thankfully. You know, we can be friends with them for now. But yeah, we definitely appreciate it.”

Coaches from around the area have weighed in voicing their frustration with the shortage. Centennial head coach Kyle Jackson feels fortunate he received 12 out of the 20 new helmets he ordered, but is still waiting on eight to arrive. At Iroquois West, head coach Jason Thiele had his helmet order canceled and is still in need of three more. With the season set to kickoff in less than three weeks, time is ticking for these coaches and athletes to get on the field safely this season.