The Central Alberta Buccaneers lost to the Calgary Gators 40-8 in the AFL semi-finals. The Bucs offensive line (pictured) allowed only nine sacks all season. Photo Submitted

Footballers bow out to Calgary Gators

Central Alberta Bucs season above expectations

The Central Alberta Buccaneers’ season, after a thrilling first-round playoff victory over the Lloydminster Vandals, was cut short by the Calgary Gators in a 40-8 loss.

“I guess you have to lose sometimes,” Offensive Tackle Vince Roth said. “I am entirely impressed with the group we have and the performance we put up. Obviously, we would have liked the score to be different but our guys didn’t quit. We played a full game from beginning to end and I am proud of the guys.”

The Bucs, according to Roth, didn’t linger on the loss too long.

“We haven’t really analyzed it,” he said. “There hasn’t been much point — we are done for the season now. It will be a different group of guys next year to some extent. We may look at it then but not right now.”

Roth felt the lopsided score was in no way indicative of the way the Bucs approached the game.

“There was confidence and a lot of guys thought it was our game to lose,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s what we did — we lost. They had a big roster. It was one of the biggest lineups we played against all year and they had a lot of depth.

“They have quality players at all positions and you just have to look at the All-Star team this year — the Calgary Gators pop up on that list fairly often. With talent like that, you expect to have a good game on your hands. They did well.”

The Bucs, by many accounts, exceeded expectation with this years’ squad — which had less depth than last year.

“I don’t think anyone expected us to be as good as we were this year, including some of the guys within the organization,” Roth said. “We did good — obviously you’d like to win a championship but I’m impressed with what we accomplished this year. We have something to build off of for next season.”

He noted a big disappointment was not being able to get another stab at the 1st place Fort McMurray Monarchs, who ousted the Bucs from last years playoffs in the championship final.

“I can’t speak for everyone in the room but I know for me that was a big part; it would have been great to go up to Fort Mac and do what they did to us last year — but it wasn’t in the cards this year,” he said. “There was the disappointment, but it wasn’t as much as last year. We weren’t expected to be here — we were the underdogs going into this game. I guess the people who said we were the underdogs weren’t wrong.”

The Bucs will return many of the same guys next year; continuity that Roth feels will only benefit the team.

“We have a good core group that will probably return,” he said. “We have made great strides on the field and as far as PR goes. There are more people that know about us and hopefully, there will be more talent next year. It is only up from here.

“There are a few guys that announced to retire from football and of course, there will be some movement just from life. It will be interesting to see who is showing up at camp.”

Vince said the cohesion shown by this unit will continue throughout the offseason.

“We will stay in touch,” he said. “We won’t be on the field practising twice a week and playing a game every weekend, but we made a point to let the guys know that this is more than just football — we are a family and a family stays connected.”

He added the Bucs will continue their community and charitable events throughout the year.

“That never stops. That is huge for us to give back to the community that gives us so much. We don’t have any intention of slowing down and we have already had discussions about what we might do during the offseason,” he said.

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