The Central Alberta Buccaneers have made a great start to the season.
On June 7th, the Bucs hosted the Calgary Wolfpack in the AFL season opener which also happened to be the Bucs’ home opener.
After defeating the Wolfpack 36–17, the Buccaneers have made the first step to fulfilling their goal of a perfect season.
Buccaneers coach Duane Brown said he was very impressed with how the Bucs played.
“It was a happy day from start to finish,” said Brown. “The team did exactly what we wanted today.”
Brown also commented on how vital it was to start strong in order to build off the incredible season they had last year, as well as still remain competitive having lost some key players in the off-season.
“It was very important for us today to come out against a proven established team and dominate them,” said Brown.
“That second half was complete domination.” In the first quarter of the game, neither side managed to gain any kind of an advantage. Both traded the ball a few times making and losing yards, but at the end of 15 the game remained scoreless.
In the second quarter, the Buccaneers claimed first blood with a touchdown from Taylor Waldbauer and a successful conversion kick from Tylor Johnson.
Later in the quarter, the Wolfpack would do the same to pull even with the Buccaneers and then score a field goal to pull ahead.
It was clear, especially in the first half of the game, that it was the first game of the season. Both teams made a few sloppy mistakes, which their opponents were quick to capitalize on.
While they were in the game from the beginning, the Buccaneers made a much better showing in the second half, particularly in the final quarter.
By reading the Wolfpack defense, the Bucs were able to find the holes and make some long runs to put them in good scoring positions, translating into more touchdowns.
Rookie Edwin Rivera was one player who gained the Bucs quite a few running yards, showcasing some impressive moves on the field and making it through a few Wolfpack defenders.
Brown said that he and the coaching staff have been expecting a strong performance from Rivera since the very beginning.
“Rivera is the real deal,” said Brown. “We’ve known since day one when we saw him on the practice field that that kid is the real deal and he is phenomenal and exciting to watch. I just can’t wait until our offensive package is big enough that it really exploits what he can do.”
The Buccaneers made better reads on the defensive side as well, leading to quite a handful of interceptions and several blocked passes.
As with offence, the Bucs’ defense was able to take full advantage of the mistakes made by their opponents.
Johnson was one player who made several tips to prevent Wolfpack passes from being completed and was an impressive force on the field as a defensive back as well as a kicker.
After taking a bad penalty for mouthing off to one of the officials, Johnson returned to the field and turned his frustrations into a stellar performance.
Brown said Johnson’s objectionable conduct is not typical for him and a bit of a cool-down on the sidelines was all he needed.
“We let him calm down and then he did exactly what you are supposed to do – take your frustration out on the other team,” said Brown.
While content with his team’s performance, Brown said there is still work to be done.
He said he would like to see the special teams line running a little tighter before this weekend’s game against the Grande Prairie Drillers.
Brown added that the number of penalties the Bucs took needed to decrease as well.
Next action for the Bucs is 6 p.m. Saturday at ME Global Field. This time the Bucs will host the Grande Prairie Drillers.