SUBMITTED BY TODD LEWIS
The Central Alberta Buccaneers traveled south to McMahon Stadium, June 21st, in order to take on the 2-0 Calgary Gators. The Gators had an undefeated season in 2013 and, as a result, were AFL champions. The Bucs needed a win against the champs in order to improve their record and compete for the top spot in the league.
Despite travelling with a light roster, consisting of approximately 30 players, the Bucs were more than a challenge for the Gators. Both teams' defenses were firing on all cylinders, which made life hard for the offensive players - the ball was fumbled and intercepted often throughout the game. The Buccaneer defense, in particular, was dominant. "They made goal line stands, huge plays, and were exciting" said head coach Duane Brown. As a result of this dynamic defensive play, the Bucs entered halftime with a narrow margin behind the Gators (a late field goal made the score 3-0 for Calgary).
During the second half, the Bucs continued to make big defensive plays, but also continued to struggle putting points on the board. Brown said that coaching was responsible. "We need to improve our offensive game plan. Coaching has to do a better job of prepping the team and, moreover, putting [the players] in a position to succeed."
Traveling with a light roster does not help, especially during a game that played during 22+ degree heat. Thanks to a couple opportunistic TDs late in the fourth quarter, the Gators won the game, 17-0.
Coach Brown praised the play of rookie quarterback Cole Stewart, as well as veteran defense-men Josh Achtemichuk, Kenton Poelzer, and Kerry Lynch.
During AFL week #4, the Bucs will travel to Lloydminster, July 5, in order to take on the 0-3 Vandals. With a win in Lloydminster, the Bucs can resume their hunt for opportune playoff position and, ideally, first seed in the AFL. Brown said "We want to win. We expect nothing less."