It’s said that offensive line is the hardest position to fill on a football team.
Finding big guys who can pave the way for an effective ground game and keep their quarterback clean is tough to do.
But Valley Huskers head coach Bob Reist believes he’s unearthed a gem in Manitoba native David Neumeier.
The bench boss describes Neumeier as ‘a rock at left tackle.
“Being a rock at left tackle means you hold it down and get the job done no matter what,” said Neumeier, who embraces the description and the responsibility that comes with it. “You’re protecting the quarterback’s blind side, and if your guy beats you and your QB isn’t looking that way… with all the talent we have in this league we have to protect him.”
The Huskers head into 2019 with a pair of younger QBs behind center.
Reid Vankoughnett saw live action in 2018 with the Kamloops Broncos, but his junior football experience is limited to seven games and 204 pass attempts.
Robert Bateman grad Logan McDonald is a rookie.
Whoever’s behind center may need an extra split second to diagnose the defense, and younger quarterbacks are more prone to chucking interceptions if their line can’t keep the pass rush back.
Neumeier knows this, and acknowledges there’s more pressure on the O-line to perform. But he also claims it doesn’t matter who’s at quarterback.Veteran or rookie, the job’s the same no matter what.
“Everyone does their job and we trust the guys next to us to do their job, and we work off each other,” he explained. “They are younger QBs, and maybe we’ll think about that more once the regular season starts, but we don’t have that feeling yet.”
Neumeier comes to Huskers straight out of high school as a graduate of the Yorkton Regional High School Raiders, where he played on the defensive and offensive lines.
Two years in a row his team went undefeated in league play.
“We broke a lot of records and our defence was outstanding, but we never made it to provincial finals because our star players were injured in back to back years,” Neumeier said. “That was tough to deal with for sure, but that’s one of the reasons I wanted to sign with the Huskers, because I think this is the place to be this season.”
Neumeier, originally from Winnipeg, has family in Penticton and has made several trips to B.C.
The prairie boy always wanted to move west.
“I knew this was where I wanted to be, and I wanted to go somewhere where I’d play immediately and not be sitting on the bench,” he said.
Neumeier loves the physicality of his position and the feeling of bullying a defender. Like all linemen, he loves pancaking an opponent as his running back darts through the massive hole he just cleared.
“You get a body on a body and have a good running back running through a lane for five yards,” he said. “If you can get five yards from each play you’re set.”
That said, he takes extra pride in a well executed pass block.
“Just because in my position it’s more of a one-on-one battle,” he said.
Practices have been an eye-opening experience for Neumeier, who’s gone head-to-head with powerful guys like Isaiah Letander and Tyrece Viner-Cox.
“Me and (David) Steeves, Isaiah and Tyrece, we go at each other all practice long,” Neumeier said with a grin. “I love going against those guys because we make each other better.
“I’ve gone against top guys playing at the International Bowl in Texas and stuff like that, and I feel like I’m ready to compete in this league.”
l The Valley Huskers kick off the 2019 B.C. Football Conference season Saturday, hosting Victoria’s Westshore Rebels.
Kickoff is 2 p.m. at Exhibition Stadium.