The Central Alberta Buccaneers have finished their 2017 regular season with a 6-2 record, winning all games minus the Calgary Gators and Fort McMurray Monarchs.
Players have a chance to rest and heal over the long weekend before they enter the AFL quarter-finals; they host the Lloydminster Vandals on Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. at Lacombe’s MEGlobal Athletic Park.
With a shutout recently in St. Albert over the Stars, the Bucs solidified their third place finish in the standings (with the Stars finishing fourth). The standings were crucial this year as the third seed will eventually matchup against the Calgary Gators in the semi-finals, while the fourth seed will be slotted against the powerhouse Monarchs in Fort McMurray.
Not only are the Monarchs the stronger team (who were undefeated in regular season), it is also long road trip up north to Fort McMurray; this trip is not only a financial burden on an organization, but a hindrance on athletes as well (so called “bus-legs” can negatively impact players’ performance).
Regarding their game against the Stars, head coach Fred Knip said that the Bucs, “Played electrifying and with discipline.” The Buccaneers managed to shutout the Stars while notching 47 points. “Good things happen when you play cohesively and as a team. They had each others’ backs the entire game and the scoreboard reflects that.”
Quarterback Juday Knip lead the Bucs offense — he completed 16 of 21 passes for 291 yards, which included four touchdowns and one interception.
Rookie wide receiver Tanner Olstead was a favourite target of Knip and managed to haul in 10 receptions for 161 yards and three TDs. Linebacker Ian Keetch had a monster game on defense, recording 8.5 tackles (2.5 for a loss of yards), two knockdowns, a sack, and a fumble recovery (that he ran for 80 yards and a TD). Linebacker Todd Lewis added 10 tackles to the Bucs stingy defense (0.5 for a loss), as well as a single knockdown.
“We practiced hard all week and, as a result, we beat a team we needed to beat,” said Knip. “Our defense was lights out and the offense was disciplined and executed excellently. We have confidence moving into the quarter-finals: all week I have been hearing ‘bring on the [Lloydminster] Vandals.’”
On Aug. 12, the Bucs will kickoff at home against the Vandals.
“People should come to the game because we have great entertainment and (for playoffs) free tickets for all in attendance,” explained team captain Mark Fay. “Next to the CFL, this is the best football in Alberta at this time of year.”
In addition to the game, the team has inflatable bouncy castles and halftime entertainment. “Bring out the whole family!”