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New Springdale QB getting grip on changes

| Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, 12:05 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Springdale's Jake Helman at a practice at Springdale Jr.-Sr. High School on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

A whirlwind of change swirled through Springdale this offseason, and senior Jake Helman found himself at the center of it all.

Helman was groomed to take over as starting quarterback for the Dynamos, who are adjusting to a new coaching staff and offensive system this year.

How significant are the changes surrounding Helman?

Well, Springdale has made 10 consecutive trips to the WPIAL Class A playoffs and during that stretch was directed by the same head coach, used basically the same offensive schemes and started only four different quarterbacks.

The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Helman knows as well as anyone how much Springdale has changed since last season, but he hopes to help the Dynamos remain consistent when it comes to victories.

“Our offense is completely different,” Helman said. “We took a lot of time during the summer trying to learn it as quickly as possible so we'll have it down perfect before the season.”

Helman will lead a version of the wing-T offense — installed by first-year coach Dave Leasure — that allows for more passing than usual from that alignment.

Previously, under long-time coach Chuck Wagner, Springdale employed the shotgun zone fly formation, which relies heavily on sweeps and quarterback runs.

In Wagner's final season, the Dynamos finished 8-3 and advanced to the quarterfinals while averaging only about five passes a game.

“Coach (Leasure) says we could throw 10 to 15 passes a game,” Helman said. “That's a lot more than last year. We were known for our running, and we're still strong running. I like taking on more of the load and trying to help the team win.”

Leasure likes the progress made by Helman, who's the first Springdale player named starting quarterback in his senior year since 1998. He saw mop-up duty last year.

Helman and his teammates participated in 7-on-7 passing competitions at St. Francis (Pa.) University and Riverview High School this summer.

“He's come a long way since February in his confidence and his athletic role,” Leasure said.

“He's getting a better understanding of reads and getting better at changing plays based on what he sees at the line (of scrimmage). His approach is very positive.”

Springdale has about 30 players on its roster and will ask many of its top athletes to start on offense, defense and special teams.

Helman also will line up at free safety, where he started a few games last season.

“We'd like to give him a break, but we just can't,” Leasure said. “He's becoming the leader of our secondary. He's great against the pass and is getting better against the run. I hold my breath when he comes up to make a tackle.”

Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pkogut@tribweb.com or 724-224-2696.

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