It was a rough night for the Central Alberta Buccaneers. On June 14th, the Bucs hosted the Grande Prairie Drillers and lost their first game this season 31–18.
Buccaneers Coach Duane Brown attributed the Bucs’ performance to a poor practicing week. He cited the mantra, “You play how you practice,” and said the team had one of its worst weeks of practice all season.
This loss is especially hard considering the Buccaneers were aiming for a perfect season this year. However, Brown said that an undefeated record is not the only definition of a perfect season.
“We just made our season a little tougher than it needed to be,” said Brown. “But that’s alright. A perfect season sometimes isn’t the one with the perfect record.
“Sometimes it’s how you handle adversity. We have adversity now.”
Brown also said he was unimpressed with the quality of the officiating in this game. Penalties plagued the Bucs throughout the game and Brown admitted he and the Bucs needed to take responsibility for some of them, but he still thought Saturday’s officiating was some of the worst he had ever seen.
In particular, Brown was upset that no penalty had been called when Buccaneer Tyler Johnson was blindsided with a hit that caused him substantial injury.
While Brown said the Driller player who tackled Johnson made no attempt to play the ball, the officials disagreed.
The game started off well for the Buccaneers, they opened up scoring and held off the advancements of the Drillers for most of the first quarter, however, with seconds left in the first quarter, the Drillers managed to tie things up, ending the quarter 7 – 7 and leveling the playing field.
In the second quarter, it was Grande Prairie that opened scoring with a touchdown and successful conversion about 10 minutes in. Buccaneers would not answer until a field goal in the third.
Grande Prairie would then score their own field goal to make the score 17–10 in favour of the Drillers. That’s where things started to go downhill for the Bucs.
While a punt from Matt Merkley and a safety thanks to a tackle from Jamie Blinkhorn gained the Bucs a single point each, they were unable to gain enough traction for a touchdown or even another field goal.
Grande Prairie on the other hand managed to extend their lead with another touchdown and successful conversion kick, making the score 24–12.
Shortly after, when the Bucs next took possession of the ball, a big interception by the Drillers led to a touchdown and conversion kick that effectively sealed the Bucs’ fate. The Bucs managed to score one more touchdown but were unable to make a successful conversion kick. It was in the last minute of the game, with the Bucs knocking on the Drillers’ door for one last touchdown, Tylor Johnson received a brutal hit that left him on the sidelines for the remainder of the game.
Johnson was transported via ambulance to the hospital after the game where it was discovered he had severely separated his shoulder. “Fortunately, that is the worst injury he has,” said Brown. He added that he expects Johnson to be out for the remainder of the season.
In addition to an unfortunate injury to a player, that loss will impact the Bucs game in both defensive and kicking ability. Brown said that there a few players willing to step up to the plate but no matter what, Johnson’s will be big boots to fill.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Brown. “He is an all-star player and rightfully so.”