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Helbert turns in a Royal coaching job

12:00 AM, Nov. 07, 2012 EST

Wynford High School football head coach Gabe Helbert. / Sara C. Tobias/Telegraph-Forum


Few people willingly follow a legend in their profession.

Follow the man who followed the man, is a much easier path to tread.

But Gabe Helbert bucked that trend this fall. In taking over for the legendary Travis Moyer, Helbert inherited one of the most successful posts in Ohio high school football.

Wynford came into this season with a state-best 58-game regular-season winning streak. The Royals reached seven straight playoffs and were coming off a state semifinal appearance when last year's squad finished 13-1.

Most looked at Wynford's roster and figured it would be payback time. There was bold talk the Royals might not escape the opener, or even Week Two without a blemish. Galion was loaded in the North Central Conference, Colonel Crawford hung tough with a better Wynford team a year ago, and Ontario and Upper Sandusky would not be easy outs.

Then there was the issue of departures. Star quarterback Zach Chatlain and three-year starters Jared Butler and Seth Rall were gone, as were defensive end Jon Miller and linebacker Luke Miller.

While there was talent remaining, it was largely unproven, and without Moyer working his magic, there was consternation the Royals wouldn't be up to snuff this autumn.

Well, here we are in the second weekend in November, and not only is Wynford alive, but Helbert's team is well.

Sure, the Royals had their incredible winning streak finally snapped at Ontario on Sept. 28, halting the mark at 63 straight games. A tough 15-7 loss at Galion actually revealed an impressive effort, and any remaining doubters were dismissed on Saturday night when Wynford pounded Loudonville 24-0 in a Division V, Region 19 regional quarterfinal contest.

They say success begets success, and the tradition built in Wynford is a stout argument to that philosophy. Youngsters like Brock Williamson and Gage Roe and Adam Hartz and Evan Snode know the expectations. They've seen the results produced routinely in their backyard, and have a standard they are working hard to reach.

Pulling it all together was not an enviable task, but Helbert and his staff have handled it with aplomb.

The young head coach didn't walk into the situation blind. He was a high school quarterback at Crestline, his father Steve was a longtime defensvie coordinator at Mansfield Senior and also in Crawford County. Gabe Helbert served on Moyer's staff, and knew his personnel well heading into this season.

No doubt all of those factors helped. But did anyone see this coming?

Wynford will take a 9-2 record into Saturday night's game with Lucasville Valley at Reynoldsburg High School. The Royals tamed Lucasville Valley in a wild regional championship game last year. No doubt the other sideline hasn't forgotten that encounter. But that scenario is nothing new.

Facing foes down with a business-like approach has been modus operandi for Helbert and his charges all season. Plowing through that setting with another season of solid success is quite an achievement for a first-year head coach and his program.

Here's hoping the ride continues past this weekend.




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