The Central Alberta Buccaneers kicked off their 2017 season with a road trip and a resounding 44-14 victory, winning their first game of the season. After the long wait since 2016, the Bucs were itching to take the field in Grande Prairie against their long-time rivals, the Drillers on May 27.
The first game of the season is “always the most nerve-wracking one,” said Slotback Jesse McPhail. “You never really know how good [the team is] or how other teams stack up, until you see the results after the first week.”
Regardless of the ability of either team, the Bucs knew they were heading into a battle on Saturday. “Grande Prairie is always a hard-hitting team,” said McPhail.
In the game’s lengthy first quarter (one that lasted an hour and a half), the lead changed hands three times. After the Buc defense made a big red-zone stop on their own 30-yard line, the pirate offense marched the ball downfield with some deft passing and running until they hit the Drillers’ endzone.
The teams traded scores until the game sat 14-13, Drillers, at the start of the second quarter. After a timeout, the Bucs rallied, collected themselves, and began to execute. Their defense shutdown the Drillers for the rest of the game, and the Buccaneer offense drove possession, running all over the field and completing short, precise passes.
The Bucs traveled with a small roster, taking the field with 31 dressed players. While it is ideal to have over 40 players on a team’s bench, the short-staffed Bucs excelled partly due to their small roster.
“The guys really stepped up. We needed everyone to ball out and everybody did,” said Team Captain Mark Fay. “Absolutely everyone on our roster left it all on the field. Every Buc played his heart out and it showed on the field and on the scoreboard.”
The Bucs hope to continue their success via committee into week two, on Saturday, June 3rd. They are hosting the Lloydminster Vandals on Lacombe MEGlobal Athletic Park, at 6 p.m.
“Kids get in for free,” said Fay. “It’s an awesome evening; the field has its concession and BBQ going, FunHaus is supplying a bouncy castle – there’s a lot going on at game day.”