1st-year coach highlights plenty of changes at Springdale
Springdale's opponents might pause briefly and wonder if they lined up against the correct team. From coaches to offensive and defensive alignments to starting players, the perennial power Dynamos will sport a much different look this year.
Springdale has earned 10 consecutive trips to the WPIAL Class A playoffs but features more changes this year than in any campaign of the last decade.
First of all, Dave Leasure replaced the venerable Chuck Wagner, who retired after 50 seasons as a high school coach, including the last 19 at Springdale. Wagner rejuvenated what was a doormat program and guided the Dynamos to the 2003 WPIAL Class A title.
Leasure, who has spent most of his 17-year career as an assistant, admitted there's pressure to succeed quickly. Last season, Springdale (8-3) advanced to the quarterfinals.
“People expect to be in the playoffs,” Leasure said. “I understand that. I want to do the little things right and coach to the best of my ability. If I do that, I think the wins will take care of themselves. I think the kids like being around me and have bought into the staff, but the bottom line is you have to win.”
Leasure and his almost entirely new coaching staff installed a variation of the Wing-T offense that allows for more passing than usual from that formation. Previously, Springdale enjoyed great success using the shotgun zone fly attack, which relies heavily on sweeps and quarterback runs.
“They had a great offense, but I don't know it,” Leasure said. “It's not something I can watch film of and put in. I'm not comfortable doing that.”
Defensively, the Dynamos switched from a 3-5-3 to a 3-3-5 formation to deal with a loss of depth at linebacker.
Springdale returns only three starters on offense and four on defense.
Senior Sean Dugan figures to be the centerpiece on both sides of the ball after earning all-conference first-team honors at running back and linebacker last year. Dugan rushed for 1,272 yards and 22 touchdowns on 168 carries and collected 74 tackles, seven interceptions and five sacks.
“He's a great runner, and on defense you can put him anywhere,” Leasure said. “You could put him at nose guard. We put him at outside linebacker so he can help against the run and pass, and we can do some things with blitzes.”
Springdale also will look for leadership from senior two-way tackle James Murray, who was an all-conference second-teamer on offense and defense last year.
Leasure expects senior Jake Helman to take over at quarterback for graduate Joe Killian, who started for two years. Last season, the Dynamos leaned on their productive running attack and averaged about only five passes a game. The number of attempts could increase significantly this year, Leasure said.
“But let's be clear, I understand how good Sean (Dugan) is,” Leasure said. “And I think we have the guys up front and formations where Sean can make some plays. I don't think it's fair to say we'll throw 25 times a game.”