Blind faith

Protector of the blind

Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Bureau Valley's Justin Buckman will be trusted the protect the bind side of quarterback Parker Neuhalfen this season. His leadership will be key to the Storm ending a 2-year playoff drought.

The Blind Side was a popular 2009 movie chronicling the unlikely path taken to the NFL by Baltimore Ravens left tackle Michael Oher.

Justin Buckman will be facing some of those same on-field challenges.

The Bureau Valley senior played guard for the Storm as a junior, but is being switched to the all-important left tackle position. One of his duties will be to protect the blind side of junior quarterback Parker Neuhalfen from oncoming rushers.

"I'm looking forward to it," Buckman said. "It's a change for me. I've never really played tackle before, but I think I can handle it. I'll work at it, and I think I've been doing pretty good so far."

Jeff Ohlson, entering his sixth season at the BV head coach, is confident Buckman can handle the job.

"If I had 10 Justin Buckmans, I'd have a wonderful offensive line," Ohlson said. "He's a kid that you can build around, and he's very coachable."

Aiding in Buckman's transition is the addition of Nate Swanson to the Bureau Valley staff. He was a standout tackle for the Storm, and has been teaching Buckman some of the tricks of the trade, such as staying low, proper footwork and using the hands effectively.

"He's coached me up really good, and I think he's a great asset to our team," Buckman said of Swanson.

The 6-foot, 220-pounder realizes, however, there are probably going to be some times when the blocking isn't up to snuff, and perhaps Neuhalfen will take a shot. It's all part of the learning curve.

"There's probably going to be some points where I'm going to be nervous," Buckman said, "but I think I can handle it. I'll come up to the challenge, and I'll do the best that I can to protect him."

"Justin is a kid that works extremely hard," Ohlson said. "He's been committed to the program for 4 years, he's committed to getting himself into good shape, and he's really made himself into a good football player."

The Storm are coming off a 4-5 season, their second consecutive sub-.500 mark after a run of qualifying for the playoffs nine out of 10 seasons. Buckman is planning on a return to postseason action.

"We're looking good in practice," he said. "I'm sure we'll have our ups and downs, but I think we're going to do pretty good this year."

Bureau Valley FYI

• Bureau Valley is seeking to end a two-year playoff drought, after qualifying for the postseason nine of 10 seasons from 2001-10.

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