The Central Alberta Buccaneers are looking to find extra gear as they cruise towards the AFL playoffs.
The squad returned to the friendly confines of the MEGlobal Athletic Park, where they took on the visiting Calgary Wolfpack. The home team managed to shake off some early rust to come away with a 60-12 victory, which ensured a home playoff date on August 12.
Offensive tackle Vince Roth said the lopsided score isn’t necessarily indicative of the way the game played out.
“They brought effort but they were outgunned,” he said. “I have to give them credit for coming out hard. They caught us by surprise at the beginning – I don’t think we were expecting the fight they came out with. I think we came out softer then we should have. We were able to pull away but they put forth effort and I give them credit for that.”
The slow start is something Roth said the team hopes to eradicate with a tough matchup this Saturday in St. Albert against the Stars.
“We came out soft and lazy and then realized that we are still playing football,” he said. “We had to put our foot down a little harder and put the work in that’s needed to win a football game. I hate seeing a slow start at anytime. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is or what the game means. Hopefully we can learn from that mistake this weekend and go forward, come out hard and fire on all cylinders.”
The Stars’ game will decide third place in the AFL standings and would mean the difference between a home or away semi-final game.
“It is pretty big and we are calling it a playoff game,” Roth said. “Win or lose we are in the playoffs – it is not an elimination game, but it has pretty big implications as far as where we travel. If we end up losing this game, we will finish in fourth and that means – granted we win the quarter final – we will be travelling to Fort McMurray for the semis. We would rather travel there for the final.”
Roth noted beating the Fort McMurray Monarchs in the final would be some poetic justice for the Bucs.
“We don’t forget history and everyone knows how last year went, so it would be nice to return the favour to Fort McMurray and go win a championship in their building,” he said.
Playing back at home is something that is important to the Bucs, and would be crucial in the playoffs.
“It was nice to get home and be in front of our fans again,” he said. “We will finish the regular season on the road, but I think it will be a great atmosphere on August 12, when we play or first home playoff game. I love playing at home. The people of Lacombe are great and they love coming out and supporting our games. They are a great crowd and it is nice to put on a show for them.”
Roth said the biggest thing in the next few weeks will be to stick with what has been working
“The biggest thing is discipline and keeping mental errors to a minimum,” he said. “Our playbook has one or two things that we will bring out for later games, but other then that it is pretty set and we need to polish in a few areas. We have gelled well as a team and we are finding our way as a group. It is good to have that early season stuff behind us and look forward.”