It has been a great season for the Buccs, and they have every intention of building on their success.
With a record of 5-1, this year marks the best season in team history for the Central Alberta Buccaneers. Head Coach Duane Brown said that a number of things fell into place this year that built such a strong and successful team.
Brown said that the veteran players were at a point in their careers where they were able to mentor younger players on the team.
At the same time, those younger players have been pushing the veterans as they compete for starting positions on the team. This is a good thing, Brown added, as it forces players to work hard for their spots on the team and field time.
Having been head coach of the Buccaneers for three seasons now, Brown said there are two differences on the team that stand out to him and have never occurred before in his time with the Buccs. First, is that the team has a consistent offensive line. Second, is the team has depth.
By depth, Brown means talent goes beyond just the starting players on the team. He said that in past seasons, the Buccs first-string talent has been equal to other teams or better.
However, should some of that first-string talent be unable to make a game because of injury or other complications, the Buccaneers had no replacements that could play at that same level.
“We either didn’t have a back-up, or the drop between back-up to starter was huge,” said Brown. He added that this year, with so many players literally fighting for positions on the team, the Buccs have no problem filling a space left by an injured player and still playing a high caliber of football.
This season’s only loss by the Buccaneers came at the hands of the undefeated Calgary Gators and Brown said even that was a close game that could have gone either way.
He added that the team was missing several players particularly from the offensive line and still managed to compete on the same level as the Gators.
With only one loss on their record, the Buccs are certainly a favourite to win this year’s league. However, that in no way means they won’t be challenged.
Before the Buccaneers can even think about a championship game, they will have to face off against the St. Albert Stars this weekend.
While the Buccs crushed the Stars last time they faced them in Lacombe, Brown said the playoffs are a different beast and the team should forget about everything that happened during the regular season.
“The key thing is our players can’t take them for granted,” said Brown.
He added that recently, the coaching staff of the Buccaneers have been constantly reminding players that the Stars are a rookie team and have managed to do something that other rookie teams haven’t by making it to the semi-final.
“They have nothing to lose and if we don’t give them the respect that they deserve, they will come out and bite us,” said Brown.
Should the Buccs defeat the Stars this Sunday, their opponents in the Alberta Football League Championship will be decided in a game between the Calgary Wolfpack and the Calgary Gators that will take place only a few hours after the Stars and Buccs have kicked-off.
Brown said that game will be tight and could go either way.
“It’s going to be close, that’s a huge grudge match between those two teams.”
In any case, Brown said that either team will prove a challenge should the Buccs advance to the championship game.
“Either team is going to be a battle,” said Brown. “I think it just changes to a defensive battle if we play the Gators versus and offensive battle if we play the Wolfpack.”
The Central Alberta Buccaneers take on the St. Albert Stars on Aug. 11 at 2 p.m.