Former SOU star Helfrich eyes Oregon position

Mark Helfrich, who was born in Medford, starred at Marshfield High in Coos Bay and became a record-setting quarterback for Southern Oregon University, will interview for the offensive coordinator position at Oregon next week. It’s the same position he holds now at Colorado.

Here’s an excerpt from a story we had in August 1997 after Helfrich joined the Ducks’ staff as a graduate assistant. It’s followed by links to stories on the Eugene and Boulder, Colo., Web sites. Helfrich set SOU records in 1993 for passing yards (2,712), TD passes (23) and total offense (2,962):

Former Southern Oregon University quarterback Mark Helfrich has been named a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Oregon. Helfrich, 23, replaces Rich Cuttrell as a graduate assistant coach for offense.

“I was really fortunate to get this job,” says Helfrich, who recently returned from Austria, where he played quarterback and
served as offensive coordinator of the Vienna Vikings of the European Federation of American Football.

Oregon’s gain is Southern Oregon’s loss, according to SOU head coach Jeff Olson, who was expecting to have Helfrich back as a graduate assistant coach this season.

“He has a bright future as a college coach because he knows the game and he’s very intelligent,” Olson says. “It was a very good hire by Oregon.”

Helfrich says he expected to return to Southern Oregon this fall. Last year, he coached running backs and receivers for Southern Oregon during his first year as a graduate assistant. While playing professional ball in Europe last spring, Helfrich started all 11 games, operating a wide-open offense that kept him scrambling and throwing on the run.

“Our problem was that we didn’t have a very good offensive line,” he says. “Most of our linemen either didn’t have much experience, or they weren’t physical enough. So I was running for my life a lot.”

For a while, Helfrich teamed with former Oregon State running back Cam Reynolds in calling plays for the Vikings.

“I tried to feature Cameron, but then he got hurt, mainly because our linemen couldn’t protect him well enough,” says Helfrich. “Then, I went to different offenses, including a one-back formation, to get me time to do something.”

Helfrich was a starting quarterback for SOU in parts of four seasons (1992, ’93, ’94 and ’95), but injuries cut deeply into his
playing time as a junior and senior. At that point, Helfrich dropped his plan to go into pre-medicine after picking up a degree in biology at Southern Oregon. He hopes eventually to become an assistant coach in college football.

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