The Central Alberta Buccaneers recently opened their 2018 season in Lacombe.
Thirty-seven out of 65 players on the roster took to the field to begin a season that could very well end in a National Championship, especially considering the return of standout quarterback Brandon Leyh who took the Bucs’ to the 2016 national final.
“I think we are going to have a pretty good squad,” Leyh said. “We are returning a lot of guys we had from two years ago and we are ready to rock n’ roll. Anything less than a championship will be disappointing.”
The Bucs’ had a solid season in 2017, but were unable to replicate the success of the previous years. Leyh said he hopes to build on the successes of both years.
“We are looking to air it out quite a bit,” he said. “A couple years ago we threw the ball early and often. I think we are going to do that again but at the same time we will keep it simple and use the plays that have been working.
“Ninety-five per cent of the plays we installed yesterday was already in last season.”
Leyh takes over as the starting pivot from Judah Knip, who will once again assume the backup QB role.
“Me and Judah have a really good relationship going back to two years ago. We have played basketball together and we talk outside of football. He is a good kid, awesome learner, awesome last year and we have a really good understanding of what is going to happen this year,” Leyh said.
The Bucs’ will once again be staring across the province at their arch-rival — the Fort McMurray Monarchs — but Leyh said the league will be competitive throughout.
“Fort Mac is going to be good; we think the Stars will be pretty good and the Gators folded, so a lot of their players went to Airdrie and the Wolf Pack. We expect a balanced league,” he said.
Halfback and Bucs’ captain, Mark Fay, said it was encouraging to see a lot of the guys out early and believes buy-in will be key to the Bucs’ winning a national championship.
“I think the biggest thing is having everyone here to practise and then showing up on game day and executing,” Fay said. “We are going to out prepare teams this year and that is what will push us to the top.”