The Central Alberta Buccaneers have secured first place in the AFL with a victory over the Calgary Gators.
On the rainy Saturday, July 16, the Bucs travelled south to take on the third place Gators in Calgary. The playoff implications of this game were significant – a Buccaneer loss would mean that they, the Gators, and the Fort McMurray Monarchs would be in a three-way tie for first place. The seedings for playoffs would then be decided by score differentials (which the Bucs would have likely lost). The pirate crew had to win against the Gators if they wanted to clinch first place (and the favourable playoff schedule that comes with first place).
The Bucs kicked off their game well. The defense was able to hold off the Gators’ tandem-quarterback team of Jordan Heather and Darryl Leason. Numerous Gator passes were knocked down, incomplete and even picked off by the talented Buccaneer secondary. The Gators run game was eaten up as well. In addition to the defense, the Bucs special teams were tenacious; the so-called “Spades” flew around the field and played a very physical game. Going into the first half, the Bucs led 27-7.
The pirate offense was sharp as well; despite heavy Gator pressure and blitzing, QB Brandon Leyh found his receivers downfield (for both short and large passing attempts). In the fourth quarter, Leyh went down with an ankle injury and was unable to continue playing; team offense slowed in the final quarter. The Gators made a final push and managed to narrow the gap with a few quick touchdowns (and short kickoff attempts). Regardless, the Bucs held on for the victory, 43-32.
With this win, Central Alberta is now 6-0 on the season. Not only does this secure first-place, it marks the first time the Bucs have gone undefeated this far into the regular season. The team will be striving to hold on for the two remaining games of the regular season.
The next matchup for the Bucs is at home against the Airdrie Irish. The Irish were the league expansion team in 2015; while they are still building, they have some talented players that will definitely challenge the Bucs. Additionally, both teams are continuing their new Pink Game tradition; both charge their players and fans to raise pledges and dress in pink for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The team that raises the most pledges earns the Pink Game title and holds it until the following year (the Irish were the victors in 2015). Any interested in donating can do so at the game (July 23 at 6 p.m., held at Lacombe’s MEGlobal Athletic Park) or can donate online at www.gofundme.com/bucsbcagame.
For more info on the Central Alberta Buccaneers, visit www.cabucs.com.