It’s been a wonderful start to the season for the Central Alberta Buccaneers.
The senior mens football club has kicked off the new season with a pair of strong performances and a two game winning streak.
The latest victory was a 58-14 win on June 3 over the Lloydminster Vandals in the Bucs’ home opener, which drew more than 300 fans to the stands.
It took less than two minutes for the Bucs to score on their opening drive, the start of seven touchdown passes by quarterback Judah Knip, who threw for 353 yards in the game. Overall, the Bucs generated 581 total yards.
Receivers Axsivier Lawrence and Jesse McPhail each caught three TD passes, earning yardage totals of 207 and 139 during the game.
And it wasn’t only the offense that succeeded, as the Bucs’ defence kept the Vandals off the scoreboard for almost three quarters. The Vandals finally managed a pair of late touchdowns after completing some deep passes.
“The Vandals were sportsmen, there was no quit even when the score got ugly,” said Bucs lineman Riley St. Denis.
That stingy defence was also showcased a week earlier in the Bucs 44-14 season opener win over the Drillers in Grande Prairie on May 27.
Though the game didn’t start out strong, as the first quarter ran exceptionally long and the teams traded scores to leave the Bucs down 14-13. A timeout early in the second quarter marked a change in momentum as the Bucs defence buckled down and shut out the host Drillers the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Bucs offence began to run roughshod all over the field and when paired with some precise passes, the Drillers were left drifting the Bucs wake.
McPhail stated the first game is always the most nerve-wracking and the players knew Grande Prairie would come out hitting hard.
“You never really know how good [the team is] or how other teams stack up until you see the results after the first week,” he said.
Bucs captain Mark Fay added the smaller roster for the road trip — the club dressed just 31 players out of the usual 40 or more — paid off in the win.
“Guys really stepped up. We needed everyone to ball out and everybody did,” he said.
“Absolutely everyone on our roster left it all on the field. Every Buc played his heart out and it showed on the field and on the scoreboard.”
Even though the year has begun similar to how the last regular season unfolded with the Bucs running undefeated until losing the championship game, this year’s roster is made up quite differently and that includes a new head coach.
Fred Knip has taken the helm of the Bucs from Devon Hand and the roster is made up of a number of fresh, new and younger faces.
While some of the new schemes put in place on the defensive side of the ball has lifted the Bucs to victory, it has also helped that the new players are enthusiastic and want to learn more about how the game is played at this level.
Cannon fire — The Buccaneers hope to continue to blast their way through the league as the club will host the Calgary Gators on June 10. This is slated to be the Bucs biggest test this season, as the Gators bring a big and talented lineup with them. Game time is 6 p.m. at MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe. Kids are admitted free