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Dukes of the community, classroom

DIxon's Alex Helander (left), Jacob Harrison and Dane Schielein are leaders on the football field for the Dukes, but it's their example in the classroom and community that sets them apart.
DIxon's Alex Helander (left), Jacob Harrison and Dane Schielein are leaders on the football field for the Dukes, but it's their example in the classroom and community that sets them apart.

If idle hands are indeed the devil's workshop, ol' Satan himself has no business calling on a trio of Dixon Dukes.

The hands of Dane Schielein, a senior, and juniors Alex Helander and Jacob Harrison are plenty busy. They are going to be key members of the football team this season, but a commitment to the gridiron is only a small part of any given day.

All three of them are in the school band, are members of the track team, and are top-notch students.

Scheilein is in student council, National Honor Society, the 4-H Club, and attended Boys State this past summer.

Helander is the junior class president, treasurer of the Leo Club, and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Key Club. He's active in Boy Scouts and his church youth group.

Video: Click here to view

Harrison tutored students this past summer, guided a youth group at church, and gave musical performances in downtown Dixon this past winter.

"When you have kids that put their heart and soul into their high school like they are, they're going to get great rewards out of this building," Dixon football coach Dave Smith said. "Our whole faculty is pushing kids to be in multiple sports, activities or clubs, to get involved in our school and to have fun, and what three great role models to look to. They're in everything."

For Schielein, school is serious business. He was a bright spot on last year's winless football team, and also a top performer on the track team. In the classroom, he carries a 3.5 grade point average and is ranked somewhere in the top 20 of the senior class.

In college, he wants to get into something sports-related, perhaps as a trainer or sports management.

He used to play in a garage band, and can play a mean version of "Can't Stop" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on his guitar.

"The other things that I'm involved with, it's sort of a getaway from school," Schielein said.

Helander and Harrison also have their avenues to challenge themselves outside of school. Helander is an Eagle Scout, while Harrison is an accomplished pianist. He performed at the Next Picture Show this past February.

In school, Helander and Harrison are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the junior class, respectively. Neither has so much as a B on any report card during high school.

Helander is currently taking pre-calculus, Spanish III, Advanced Placement history, physics, band, AP statistics and AP language composition. During the second semester of his sophomore year, he pulled down six A+ and one A to boost his grade point average to 4.23, .01 ahead of Harrison.

"There's definitely a rivalry," Helander said. "He would get mad if I do 1 percent better on a test or a quiz than him, and likewise for me. We're good friends, but we compete in academics."

Harrison's current classload is AP chemistry, Spanish III, AP U.S. history, band, AP language and composition and sports P.E. The second semester of his sophomore year, he posted five A+ and two A's, leaving him with a grade point average of 4.22 – just behind Helander.

"When we found out we were No. 1 and No. 2, it was just a little competition, I guess," Harrison said, "and it's going to continue to be a competition. On graduation day, unless somebody steps up, one of us is valedictorian and the other salutatorian. It's a good competition."

The threesome's thirst for athletic competition is quenched on the football field, as they try to boost a football program that hasn't won since the final game of the 2011 season. Schielein, a starting running back and linebacker, is one of just two 4-year Dixon players (the other being Logan Fassler) on the roster, and he is optimistic for the upcoming season.

"The chemistry is just great," Schielein said. "I don't think the fact there's only a few seniors will affect us. We've been under Coach Smith for a few years now, and we're all buying into the program. We're going to make things happen."

The low numbers, Harrison noted, is not a reason the team can't win.

"We have 18, 19 people on our varsity squad, and that's a challenge we have to overcome," Harrison said, "but if we keep our heads up and stay optimistic, there's no reason we couldn't do awesome things this year."

"I think we all just need to trust each other," Helander added. "I played some varsity last season, and the team camaraderie and teamwork wasn't there. I feel like if we work as a team, work together and play smart, we can get some more wins on the board."

Dixon FYI

• This will be Dixon's last shot at teams from the Northern Illinois Big 12 West, as it will be moving to the Big Northern West in 2014.

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