The Central Alberta Buccaneers are halfway through their 2015 season and are sitting in third place in the AFL with a 3-1 record. After a convincing 31-0 shutout against the 2014 champion Calgary Wolfpack, the Bucs slipped week two against the Calgary Gators with a 50-6 loss.
While the Bucs made strong plays and had strong drives, it was penalties and mental errors that cost them the game (at a wide margin).
“Good teams capitalize on any opportunity you give them. We just need to maintain mental toughness and clean up small mistakes,” said team captain Mark Fay.
The Bucs rebounded and earned road-trip victories against the Grande Prairie Drillers and Edmonton Stallions, 37-16 and 20-14 respectively.
After fielding a record-setting defense in 2013 and 2014, the Buccaneer defense continues to shut down the opposition. Employing a system of unorthodox blitzing, the pirate D takes away opposing offenses’ time and space. Andrew Younis, former Ontario CIS footballer, described the Buc defense as “one of the most dynamic and dominant defensive philosophies [he] has seen around in his career.”
To become a powerhouse, rather than just an average team, the Buccaneers need to demonstrate strong play without suffering from errors. Linebacker Dakota Harstaad says that the team needs to “stay focused on the task at hand. We can’t afford to give up big plays here and there. We have yet to show what we can really do.”
In order to make playoffs and get closer to their goal of a 2015 championship, the Bucs need to “show up to every practice ready to work and get better” said receiver Brett Lapointe. “Head coach Devon Hand has created a new culture in the team that puts the onus back onto players. We have the talent to go deep into playoffs – will we buckle down and work for the championship rings? That is on us.”