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The high level of excitement around Florence football and it's 2-0 start to the season got another big boost.

It came in the form of NFL great Peyton Manning and a $10,000 equipment grant from the Riddell football gear company.

On Wednesday, Riddell announced the winners of their '18 in 18' Smarter Football program, naming Florence among the 18 selections. Nearly 1,400 schools nationwide applied for the grant.

Manning, a spokesman for Riddell, made a personalized message to the Falcons on Youtube, announcing the selection.

"I got an email from Riddell explaining what the grant was and decided to write in my application in hopes that we’d get it and be able to bolster some of our equipment needs that we have," Florence coach Pat Duchien said Wednesday. "It’s pretty sweet, we got a Youtube video from Peyton Manning congratulating the Falcons today."

The Falcons also bolstered their football equipment.

According to Duchien, Florence will receive 20 sets of shoulder pads for the high school team, 21 for the middle schoolers and 15 new helmets for the varsity program. Eight of those helmets are a part of Riddell's new InSite line, which is equipped with technology to monitor impact players take in practice and games.

"If (a player) has contact that’s above (a certain) threshold, an alert will notify you, not necessarily saying a kid his a concussion — it won’t diagnose a concussion — but it will tell us at the next opportunity, to take a little bit of time, stop him, check him out and make sure he’s looking good," Duchien said of the InSite helmets. 

"We have a little handheld device on the sidelines, and we can put all the players that have those helmets into it and it’s based off of a 5 million hit study."

It all adds up to safer football and another big win for Florence. The Falcons expect to receive the equipment toward the end of next week.

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