J.T. Bucsek and Liam Helstrom are going in different directions this fall when it comes to football.
Former Hun School standout Bucsek is heading to Muhlenberg College where he will be playing for the school’s football team and looking to make an impact on the offensive line.
Helstrom, a Princeton High star receiver and linebacker, is moving south to Clemson University and will be seeing a lot of big-time football games from the stands.
Despite their varying prospects, both Bucsek and Helstrom found playing for the West squad in last week’s Sunshine Classic all-star football game to be a valuable experience.
“Coming in I knew two people so you meet everyone, and everyone is a really good player,” said Bucsek, who was joined on the West squad by Hun teammate Muhammad Wainwright and coach John Law. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Helstrom, for his part, enjoyed the level of competition he found on the West squad.
“It was awesome,” said Helstrom. “It is fun playing with kids that know what they are doing and are real good. I made a lot of new friends, kids I knew from reading the papers.”
While the West ended up losing 14-7 in the July 1 contest played at The College of New Jersey’s Lions Stadium, both Helstrom and Bucsek had good nights.
Helstrom had two receptions for 42 yards, highlighted by a spectacular 35-yard catch and run down the sidelines in the second quarter. Bucsek saw a lot of action at guard and got some reps on the defensive line as well.
Flashing a wide grin, Helstrom beamed as he recalled his big first half play. “It was a double post; I cut in and the kid gave me the inside,” explained Helstrom.
“The corner seemed like he was manned up on cover 3 so I cut in and he bit and I caught it.”
Helstrom was also happy with his second reception. “They were cheating back on us a lot so the hitch was there,” added the 6’1, 195-pound Helstrom. “It was good. I got thrown to twice and I caught both balls.”
In reflecting on his performance, Bucsek was satisfied with how things went for him in the trenches.
“I thought I did really well, there were a couple of plays here or there where I could have done better,” said the 6’0, 240-pound Bucsek, in assessing his play at guard.
“I played some nose tackle and defensive end; the defensive line coach brought me in because I knew the systems. It was good competition; I felt like from line to line, we were all pretty even.”
Playing in the Sunshine game helped Bucsek get ready for the competition he will face at the college level.
“It is good preparation because in high school there are few good players but when you come here everyone is good,” said Bucsek.
“I report on August 13 to Muhlenberg; they sent me a packet with all of this running and lifting so I stick pretty much to that. I will probably play center or guard. It was good playing guard tonight because I had played center the past three years.”
Helstrom, for his part, won’t soon forget his final night of organized football.
“This is actually my last game so I wanted to play like I always do,” said Helstrom.
“I played with some kids that were real good and could actually play ball. It made me want to play better.”