The Central Alberta Buccaneers have taken their first practice snaps of their AFL season and are hoping hard work in spring camp will result in an Alberta Football League Championship at the end of the season.
With two practices last week, and two this week – along with a intrasquad game at 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 4th, things are shaping up according to plan so far.
“First practice went a lot better than I anticipated,” new Head Coach Gary LaGrange said. “We had a pretty good number out and we managed to insert quite a bit of offence, which I was surprised about. The guys picked it up pretty quick.
“We didn’t focus much on the defence since we have a couple fellas’ that know what they are doing. We are up and running for now.”
The second night of practise saw less numbers, but LaGrange was able to implement his special teams schemes.
”I think we will be alright,” LaGrange said. “Offensively, I am pretty optimistic we will be able to put points on the board. We have a veteran receiving core and a couple of the guys are guys I have coached in previous years. They went off to play junior ball, but they are back now and have helped a lot.
“The veteran guys there are no slouches. They pick it up pretty quick.”
LaGrange is hoping to bring in an elite running game to add to last season’s Bucs successful pass game which took them to the AFL final against the Fort McMurray Monarchs.
“We have a young fella’ there who we think will work out just fine and we are two deep,” he said. “I would like to find another runningback and another quarterback because if one guy gets hurt, everything changes.”
Last seasons standout quarterback and former Mount Allison starting pivot Brandon Leyh is currently weighing the possibility of a return, but LaGrange thinks a return is likely
“I have a feeling he might come and the guys are optimistic since he hasn’t handed in his equipment yet,” LaGrange said.
Regardless of Leyh’s possible return, LaGrange intends to instill confidence in his other quarterbacks.
“We have a younger guy, Burzuk, who is a shifty guy and can throw the ball. He has been working in the off season because he wants to step up. The work is paying off because he is getting the ball where it needs to get to,” he said.
Ultimately, LaGrange hopes to bring more offensive weapons in order to balance out the attack — which will go a long to way to matching the strength of their chief rivals in the Fort McMurray Monarchs.
“We have some new faces and I am sure they do. I am bringing a new style of offence to the table and I hope it works. The guys seem to be enthusiastic,” she said.
LaGrange intends to use the upcoming Red and Black as benchmarker.
“My mission here is to get better every week,” he said. “If we win or lose, it doesn’t matter as long as we are moving forward and peak at the right time.
“It is about finding the right puzzle pieces and making it work.”
The Bucs will practice in Lacombe all season, with games being at Setters Place Field in Red Deer. Their first regular season game of the season will be on the road against the Calgary Wolf Pack on May 25th, before returning home to play the Monarchs on June 1st.