Live by the sword die by the sword.
When the Central Alberta Buccaneers began their season, the coaching staff believed that they would have one of, if not the premier, defense in the league. Throughout the regular season the Buc’s defense proved their coach correct. The Buc’s finished first in points allowed, consistently forced turnovers, and kept quarterbacks on the run.
While the defense consistently performed well, Central Alberta’s offense had the tendency to have weak stretches and bog down.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, their offense gut stuck in a rut against the St. Albert Stars, leading to a 15-3 semifinal loss.
“Our Achilles heel was the same as it was all year long, an inconsistent offense,” said Head Coach Duane Brown. “It couldn’t get any momentum going and when we did we would shoot ourselves in the foot with a turnover or a penalty. That inconsistency was the difference in the football game today.”
In a tough game where both defenses came out to play, the Bucs were able to hold the Stars scoreless in the first half, including a late goal line stand, as they took a 3-0 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Central Alberta would be unable to hold the lead as they committed three of their five turnovers.
After a 5-1 finish to the regular season, the Bucs earned a bye into their semifinal game and a three-week layoff. While his team started slow, Brown would not use the extended break as an excuse for the lackadaisical start.
“I wouldn’t use rest as an excuse for underperformance,” he said. “That being said we have had three weeks since we last played a football game and the head wasn’t quite in it. I was willing to chalk that up for the first half this game, but in the first half we were in the lead.”
With three weeks to prepare, the Bucs felt that they were ready for the Stars game plan and the difference in the game was a simple one: execution.
“They did absolutely nothing different than what we expected them to do,” said Brown. “They just executed and that’s a huge difference. At this level of football it doesn’t take much but if you execute what your game plan is then you are going to be in the right position.”
Despite the loss, there are plenty of positives for the Bucs to draw from the season. Central Alberta’s 5-1 record is the best in franchise history and plenty of the younger Buccaneers showed that they have what it takes to compete.
“We need these young kids to come in and step up to lead the way,” said Brown. “That was one of the highlights of the season. We saw the Dustin Bomback’s and the Corbin Knip’s step forwards and start to become players for this team.”
The emergence of the younger players is essential to the continued success of the franchise as the Buc’s roster features four players with 10 seasons under their belt.
“I think the core of this team is a bit older and we are going to see some turnover this year, which is unfortunate,” said Brown. “These guys had a hell of a run and I hope they come around again, but some of them have been on this team for a decade or more and you can’t expect them to play forever.
It figures to be another short offseason for the Buccaneers coaching staff, for the second year in a row Brown will make a point of visiting the high schools in Central Alberta to scout for talent he says is essential to turning he team into a dynasty.
“We need these Central Alberta kids sticking around here and playing football and we’re going to get some great things happening,” he said. “It’s not going to be a one season fix, but it is going to be something we’re going to build of and have a dynasty here like the Wolfpack have had and that’s been our goal since day one.”