BY ERIN FAWCETT
The Central Alberta Buccaneers improved to 5-0 with a convincing win over the Calgary Wolfpack, 79-0 – the two teams kicked off at Calgary’s Shouldice Park during a very wet and hail-ridden July 9th evening.
The Bucs wasted no time getting on the scoreboard; the pinpoint passing of Brandon Leyh found several pirate receivers in the ‘Pack endzone in the first half of the game.
“Offensively, Brandon Leyh came ready to play. As usual,” said Elliott Mabbot, linebacker. “Our o-line has been huge for us all season. They are the unsung heroes of the team and because of their hard work, our pass and run games are deadly.”
Defensively, the Bucs were stingy and aggressive. Not only did they hold on for the shutout, they limited the Wolfpack offense to only four first downs.
“Our front seven on our defense shut down their running game and put on a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks and made life difficult for them,” said Cornerback Cole Stewart. “We set the tone early and even when we subbed in new guys we kept the tempo up. It was good to see.”
Standout individual performances include slotback Jamal Henry with two receiving touchdowns on the night (for 112 yards total). Jesse McPhail also caught two TD passes, for a total of 159 yards. Runningbacks Junior Rivera and Ron-Lee King each rushed into the Wolfpack endzone twice. In the first half, Leyh threw for 253 passing yards (which included three TDs). In the second half, Judah Knip and Andrew Stannix ran the offense as tandem quarterbacks – Knip threw his first passing touchdown as a Buccaneer QB. Defensive-end Ian Keetch led the pirate D with seven tackles, three of which were for a loss.
Looking forward to next weekend, the Bucs take on the 4-1 Calgary Gators in what is sure to be a hard-hitting, close game. The Bucs will have their hands full in Calgary as the Gators are looking dominant for yet another season (they won the AFL championship last year and lost nationals in Ontario, 38-39). This game will not only decide if the Bucs continue their winning streak, but will decide where they finish in the AFL standings. If they win, Bucs will likely finish first overall (earning home-field advantage in playoffs). If they lose, they enter a three-way tie with the Gators and the Fort McMurray Monarchs. The seedings are then decided by score differentials between those teams’ games against one another. So far, these teams have played tight games – the Bucs beat Fort Mac 43-42 and a few weeks ago Fort Mac beat the Gators 42-37. There is low margin for error at the top of the AFL.
Stewart said regarding the upcoming game against the Gators, “It will mostly come down to discipline and overcoming adversity. We need to be prepared going into the game but I believe if we stay disciplined and stick to the coaches’ game plan, we will be successful.” The Bucs travel to Calgary July 16th.
Meanwhile, Todd Lewis, chairman of the Bucs said so far this season has been a stellar one.
“Our season is going really well. It’s the first time we’ve held onto first place this late in the season,” he said. “We are absolutely ecstatic with that.”
The Bucs return home for a game on July 23rd where they will host their annual ‘pink’ game against the Airdrie Irish. The teams will raise pledges for breast cancer research. “We started out a GoFundMe page and we’re hoping people can donate to that.”
Game time is 6 p.m. at ME Global Park.
For more information on the Bucs, ‘like’ their facebook page, follow them on Twitter/Instagram @CABucs, and visit www.cabucs.com.
– with files from Todd Lewis