By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- Everything pointed to Daniel Buhl taking over at quarterback last season for Stonewall Jackson, as Buhl, then a junior, entered the 2012 season as the favorite to take over the spot that was left vacant with the graduation of John-Michael Pirtle.
However, during the Generals' first week of practice in 2012, Buhl went down with a broken fibula and was forced to miss nearly the entirety of his junior season of high school football.
Buhl was limited to just three games last season, and he could do nothing but watch for most of the year as his teammates struggled to a 2-8 campaign.
"Last season was a little bit of a letdown. I was disappointed that I didn't get to play, but it's a part of football. Injuries happen," said Buhl, who threw for 113 yards and a touchdown last season in limited action. "This year I'm back with a new mindset, I'm ready to go, and hopefully I won't get hurt this year."
Buhl once again enters this season as the top quarterback on the Generals' depth chart, and as a senior, he is more than ready to step in and be the leader of a team that will undoubtedly rely on its seniors for guidance and motivation.
Stonewall Jackson's offense lost some major pieces from last season, including its top three leading rushers in Jared Getz, Jacob Armell and Anthony Peacher, who combined to rush for over 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns a season ago. Buhl, a self-proclaimed leader by example, will be relied upon to orchestrate a Stonewall offense that will be introducing plenty of new faces this year.
"I like it, because they look up to me. It's a good feeling because I just go out there and work hard and I'll just lead by example," Buhl said. "If they're working as hard as I am then we're going to be in good shape to play."
Buhl's role as quarterback will be as important as ever for the Generals this season, as Stonewall Jackson is switching from the power-I to the option-heavy flexbone formation this season.
Longtime Generals head coach Dick Krol said he feels comfortable making the transition on offense with Buhl under center because of the intelligence that he brings to the position.
"He's not the greatest athlete in the world, but he overcomes that with his intelligence, which is what we need at quarterback in this particular offense," Krol said. "And he's doing a great job. If we have to depend on somebody, he would be the one that we would depend on and expect it to work."
Due to the lack of depth on the roster this season (Stonewall Jackson has just 27 players), Buhl will also be asked to play a big role on the defensive side of the ball.
Krol said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior will start in the defensive secondary this year, where he will be in charge of making sure everyone is in the proper position, which is something that Krol said Buhl excels at.
"I think [offensive coordinator Patrick Smoot] would love for me to say that Buhl can't play defense to keep him safe for offense, but we can't do that," Krol said. "If we have a kid who is an athlete -- especially an intelligent athlete that can keep everybody choreographed as to what we need -- we can't have him on the sideline."
Buhl said he is eager to get out on the field when the Generals open the season at home against county rival Strasburg on Aug. 30, and he doesn't think the team is too concerned about the lack of experience that Stonewall will have to deal with through the early part of the season.
"We're just going to have to go out there and give it our best effort. If we're doing the little things right, hopefully the big things -- winning and stuff like that -- will come easy," Buhl said. "We faced adversity a lot last year, and we're going to continue to do that. We were kind of young and inexperienced [last year]. We just need to get out there and face it. We have a lot of good senior leaders this year and hopefully they'll lead us in the right direction."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org