On August 6th, the Central Alberta Buccaneers geared up for their final game of the regular 2016 season. While they had already secured the number 1 spot in the AFL (and in the nation, overall), they were determined to come out with a victory; doing so meant that the Bucs would be undefeated (a first in franchise history). They kicked off against the Edmonton Raiders (who had secured 5th place in the standings).
The pirate crew got off the boat quickly – their defense shut down all Raider attempts at moving the ball, their special teams set a nasty tone, and their offense was as surgical as ever. New Buccaneer, Vince Roth number 56, said, “I think we played a well-rounded game on all sides of the ball. We executed well throughout the entire game.” The Bucs drew first blood with a 68 yard punt return by number 17 Josh Blanchard. Central Alberta’s offense quickly followed this with a flurry of touchdowns. They ended the first half of the game, 63-0.
There are areas, however, where the Buccaneers need to improve. “We definitely need to work on discipline and avoiding penalties,” said Roth. “There were way too many flags thrown in that game.” The Raiders were able to drive down field late in the fourth, resulting in their only score of the night. That offensive drive was shut down by Buccaneer defense several times, but was prolonged thanks to penalties. Ty Page number 18, a first-year Buc, said “unnecessary penalties take away our momentum. In a different game, this could result in an outcome where we don’t come out on top.” The final score on the night was 77-8.
Now that the regular season is over, the Bucs enter the AFL 2016 playoffs. Since they finished in the first seed, they earned a quarter-finals bye and will have an opportunity to rest and heal. In semi-finals (hosted in Lacombe on August 20th, 4pm), they will play the lowest-seeded team to survive the first round. If they make it past semi-finals, the Bucs will host the AFL Championship (August 27th, 6pm). And if they are the Alberta Football League Champions, they earn the right to host the NFC champions from Ontario (September 10th, 7pm). Regarding playoffs, Buc-veteran Mark Fay said, “It’s the first time in franchise history that we are 8-0 on the season, and that’s awesome, but now the real work begins. We have one goal and that’s a championship.”
“Playoffs is a whole new ball game,” said number 41 Cody Baird. “We need to be prepared for adversity.”
The Bucs continued their partnership with the Whisker Rescue on Saturday as well. The fundraiser to win “Romance Galore with number 24” continued and saw many people enter the draw. The winner of the draw will be announced at halftime during the semi-finals game (August 20th); the winner not only gets to go on a date with number 24 Ryan Miller, but receives numerous additional prizes as well. Proceeds go to the Whisker Rescue (an organization dedicated to rescuing stray cats in Central Alberta).
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