After finishing their regular season in second place with a 5-1 record, the Bucs ship sank against the St. Albert Stars on Aug. 11.
The Stars showed up at Lacombe’s MEGlobal Athletic Park with a chip on their shoulders. After the Bucs handedly bested them in regular season, 45-14, they were more than eager to redeem themselves in the semifinal matchup against the Bucs.
For the majority of the game, it was a defensive standoff. Drives were short, inconsistent and resulted in the ball being turned over often. The Buccaneers struggled to gain momentum and was not in possession of the ball for long. As a result, the Stars offense was on the field often. The Buccaneers lived up to their reputation of having the league’s toughest defense and prevented the Stars from scoring in the first half. After scoring a field goal, the Bucs had the lead 3-0 at halftime.
In the second half, turnovers, penalties, and poor field position plagued the Bucs. The Stars capitalized and scored two touchdowns before the game was over, winning 15-3.
Head coach, Duane Brown, praised the play of the Buccaneers regardless of the loss. The team fought until the whistle on every play and “never gave up.” Defensive end Jason Patrick, a 15-year veteran in the AFL, impressed Brown with “big and smart plays, as well as his effort to lead and focus the team on the goal of victory.”
“The regular season was a good one where we achieved more than any Bucs team had in the past,” said Brown. “We finished second place, had a league record-setting defense (the Bucs recorded 34 sacks and DE Ian Keetch shattered the individual sack record with 11.5), scored big plays on offense, and enjoyed huge crowds at the best facility in the league.”
Now that the season is over, the Bucs are now looking forward and are preparing for the 2014 season. “We need to learn how to win and it all starts now,” said defensive co-ordinator Devon Hand. “Players need to put their time in the gym and on the treadmill. Coaches need to get new ideas and breakdown film until their wives threaten to leave them.”
Off-season preparation will be crucial for future success, said Brown.
“We will spend the rest of August analyzing the season and the performance of the team, coaches, and support staff. We will take that information and plan the attack to fix our weaknesses for next season. That will begin with recruiting new and more players to this program. We will visit every high school team in central Alberta,” he said.
“We will also have recruiting conversations with central Alberta athletes playing university and junior ball to fill out our lineup. We will be stronger, deeper, and, most of all, more experienced. We will enter next year with one goal and one goal only: victory. Anything less will make the efforts of this year for naught. Our focus is to win everything next year, including a national championship on our home field.”
Most of all, the Bucs thank their fans and sponsors who supported the team throughout 2013. Without their support and enthusiasm, the Bucs would not have had as successful a season.