High school football

QB Helms leads high-powered offense at Nation Ford

bmccormick@heraldonline.comOctober 11, 2012 

  • Four named to Shrine roster Four area players were included in the South Carolina roster for the 76th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas that was released early Wednesday afternoon. Malcolm Means (Lewisville), Alex Sims (South Pointe), Rontavious McClure (Northwestern) and Lee Wright (York Comprehensive) were the local high school football standouts selected to compete against North Carolina’s prep pigskin all-stars Saturday, Dec. 15 at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg. Both state’s rosters can be found on page 4C. Bret McCormick

— Report cards were given out Wednesday at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill. The football team would get pretty good marks for its season thus far. Junior quarterback Dalton Helms would too. Helms has put up some nice passing numbers so far, helping the Falcons to a 5-2 record overall and 3-2 mark in Region 3-AAAA.

“Dalton’s very important in terms of his leadership and knowledge of what we’re doing,” Nation Ford coach Michael Allen said Wednesday. “He’s irreplaceable. Dalton’s never one to be satisfied with where he is; he’s always looking to improve.”

The Falcons average roughly 385 yards of offense per game, as Helms (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) has regularly been able to find the talented senior receiving duo of Dijuan Ussery and AK McCoy, who have combined for 69 catches, 1,429 yards and 16 touchdowns through seven games. Slot receiver Riley Hilton is also a reliable target and the Falcons have a solid backfield pair in Daniel Jackson and Andrew Barr. With that supporting cast and those figures in mind, it’s not surprising Helms gave himself pretty good grades at the high school football midterm mark.

“You’re always happy with your success, but then there’s always things you’ve got to work on,” he said, before practice. “I’d have low A’s, but there’s always improvement there. I have great weapons around me, but I would say still room for improvement.”

Nation Ford, which opened in 2007, went 5-5 in the Class AAA regular season last year before beating Clinton on the road in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons crashed out with a thud in the second round, getting blanked 28-0 by Daniel, but it was still a landmark campaign for a school that won 10 games combined its first four years.

This season, the school’s first in Class AAAA, has seen the Falcons continue their leap. They ran the ball primarily in 2011, but Allen was able to install his preferred offense this past offseason with Helms and a talented skill player group in mind. Nation Ford has put up big numbers, averaging over 35 points per game, and the Falcons are on pace for the school’s first winning regular season.

“We’re currently that way,” said Allen, chuckling. “A lot of football to play yet.”

The Falcons have a tough stretch of remaining games: visits to Rock Hill and Northwestern, sandwiched by home contests with York and Fort Mill. But Allen’s team is confident it will win at least two of those, and has belief that an upset is possible against state-ranked York or Northwestern.

“We just have to get more proficient,” said Allen. “We can’t turn the ball over.”

Heading into last Friday night’s 43-14 loss to South Pointe, Helms had thrown 15 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. But the Stallions’ miserly and active defense forced the junior into six interceptions en route to a blowout that clipped the high-flying Falcons. According to Allen, it was a learning experience for the whole program, not just the quarterback.

“Not only Dalton, but his coaches learned a little bit last week. Probably put a little too much on his plate, we put him in some positions that made him make decisions that ended up costing us, and his receivers dropped some balls,” said Allen. “But, you know I just think he learned some perseverance and the will to work to get better. Failure is not a bad thing sometimes. It’s just like life; you brush yourself off, you get yourself up and you get back to work.”

Nation Ford is doing that this week, but faces just as difficult a task this Friday night, hosting another undefeated squad in Bobby Carroll’s York Cougars, the state’s sixth-ranked Class AAAA team.

Helms, who releases the ball with a quick-draw wrist flick, said he needs to, “just make better reads, and if it’s not there, make the smart decision and throw it out of bounds or tuck it down and run.”

Allen knows his signal caller took heat for the Falcons last week, but that comes with the position.

“The quarterback is out there in front of everybody and gets to touch the ball every time,” said Allen. “If you’re throwing no interceptions and for 300 yards, everything’s great. If you’re throwing six picks, it’s right there for everybody to tell you how bad you are. So, he understands the position, and he understands what comes with it.”

The Falcons might look to try and get the ball in McCoy and Ussery’s hands even more Friday night against York. Both players caught a short pass against South Pointe and turned it into a 45-yard touchdown, and both have clocked 40-yard times in the low 4.4’s, Division I speed without question.

“It’s not a secret that he does have some weapons either side of him,” Allen noted. “And with a very good running back behind him, so yes that’s helped him a great deal.”

The game-changing offensive unit will have a major impact on Falcons football’s final 2012 grades, but regardless of the season’s outcome, this group is already leaving its mark on a burgeoning school.

“We’re setting the way for up and coming teams,” said Helms. “We’re showing our freshman class how we’re going to play and how this tradition will continue for years.”

Nation Ford’s coaches have explained to the players that the Falcons laid the football program’s asphalt last year. This year they’re painting the lines.

Bret McCormick 329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service