On July 23, the Central Alberta Buccaneers were finally back in Lacombe after four weeks of road games – they were determined to not only put on a show for their fans but to continue their undefeated winning streak and improve to 7-0. In addition to kicking off against the Airdrie Irish on-field, the Bucs were striving to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in the two teams’ annual Pink Game matchup.
The Buccaneers offense showed up early (once again); moving the ball down field with pinpoint passes and huge gains, the Bucs found themselves in the Irish endzone often. “We moved the ball extremely well throughout the game,” said #5 Tylor Johanesson. “We had eight different guys record a catch – this is a very rare thing in football. Josh Blanchard even tied the AFL record for most receiving touchdowns in a single game (with four TDs).”
QB Brandon Leyh was brilliant once again and was at the helm of the offense for the first half. During the second half, quarterback duties were split between #10 Andrew Stannix (who threw for 63 yards and a touchdown) and #13 Judah Knip (who threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns). “I was really impressed with Judah today. He made some great throws and a few runs that were exciting to watch on the field,” said #15 Jesse McPhail. Johanesson added that Knip “looked like a ten year vet. This isn’t an easy league to play QB in, yet he did just that. Phenomenal job.” Knip is a hometown Lacombe player and started his career on its minor football teams.
The defense and special teams components of the pirate crew were firing on all cylinders as well. “I think that every squad (offense, defense, special teams) came out strong and hungry for another W, which definitely translated to some big plays early on,” praised McPhail. “I personally believe our ‘Spades’ (Bucs’ special teams) put on an absolutely lights-out performance.” Tylor Johanesson was able to break the long-standing AFL interception record in only seven seasons (whereas the last player took nine); he has 32 interceptions so far. “I hope to play for another ten seasons and make the record unbreakable,” he joked. Other notable performances included Steven “Sonic” Adu, who made two interceptions; he scored on both and ran for 101 yards. Ian Keetch had another big game – he made six tackles (two for a loss of yards) and recorded one sack.
Jesse McPhail, another Lacombe resident, is playing his first season as a Buccaneer. McPhail played for Concordia University as a receiver and the Bucs have made use of that experience and talent; he has made 10 touchdowns and recorded 697 yards in only seven games. Regarding his “rookie” year as a Buc, McPhail said “I think this is one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on in my time playing football. I have so much fun every week at practices and games. I think because we’re so close knit as a team that we are sitting at 7-0 right now.”
At the end of the game, the Bucs topped the Irish, 77-10. In addition to on-field success, the team was able to raise over $1200 to support the fight against breast cancer (the total was well over $1500 with contributions from the Airdrie Irish). Fans, players, and local businesses all contributed to the Pink Game. On the Bucs’ community efforts, Johanesson said “we are always looking for ways to give back to our home towns and community – it’s a big part of being a Buccaneer and we are proud to do it.”
The season-long fundraiser “Romance Galore with #24,” put on by the Bucs and Whisker Rescue, saw tons of attention as well. The fundraiser has people entering a raffle to win a date with #24 Ryan Miller of the Bucs (as well as win other prizes). The raffle can still be entered at the Bucs next home game – the winner will be announced Aug. 20 during the semi-finals. Proceeds from that fundraiser support Whisker Rescue, an organization that rescues stray cats in Central Alberta.
The Bucs last regular season game is set on Aug. 6th in Lacombe. The team will be looking to continue its winning streak and finish with its first-ever undefeated season. For more information on the Bucs, Like its facebook page, follow on Instagram/twitter @CABucs, and visit www.cabucs.com.