Buccaneers have reason to celebrate

Marlow Weldon

So close, but no cigar.

That was the story for the Red Deer Buccaneers this weekend, as they fell 55-49 to the Grande Prairie Drillers in their first playoff appearance in five years.

Despite hanging up the cleats for the final time this season, the Buccaneers have a lot to look forward next season.

Quarterback Josh Achtemichuk posted another fine season, completing 14 of 22 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s game in Northern Alberta.

And then there’s all star running back Kenton Poelzer, who spent most of the regular season on the shelf.

In the final game of the season, Poelzer looked like the guy the Buccaneers were missing all season, carrying the ball 27 times (a team record) for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

Imagine the record the 2-5 Buccaneers could have put together had Poelzer not suffered a hamstring injury in a season opening loss to the Drillers.

It should be noted that Poelzer added four catches for 103 yards on Saturday, giving him 405 all purpose yards.

Co-coaches Kyle Sedgwick and Tim Burris should be given a lot of credit for taking this team from a cellar dweller in the Alberta Football League standings to one that came within a half of advancing to the league semi-finals.

Just about every time I talked to Sedgwick or Burris this season, there were a couple of messages they continually hammered on.

The team needed to improve their conditioning and they needed to sharpen their football IQ.

The conditioning issue was one the coaches worked on all season, and the results were visible as the Buccaneers proved they were no longer a team that just didn’t have any gas left in the tank when the fourth quarter came calling.

The football IQ issue took a little longer to get a handle on, with both Sedgwick and Burris admitting that that wasn’t something that was going to change overnight.

As the season progressed though, you could see the guys on the field making smarter decisions, trusting their teammates a bit more, and generally becoming a better football team.

The results may not have always been there, but that’s going to happen sometimes when you strip a football club to its foundation and start the learning process all over again.

And what did in the Buccaneers on Saturday was something that has plagued them all season and stuck in the minds of the coaching staff like a burr in a saddle.

It was their inability to close out an opponent when they have the chance.

More than a few times this season, Red Deer had the game in hand, only to watch it watch go the other way thanks to defensive miscues, missed opportunities or penalties.

It was the same story this past weekend.

The Buccaneers actually went into the intermission leading the Drillers 28-27, and they opened the second half with a very quick touchdown to take a 35-27 lead.

That, though, was when the wheels very quickly came off, as the Buccaneers missed a few tackles, blew a couple of assignments, and allowed Grande Prairie to score four unanswered touchdowns to regain the lead.

Despite a yeoman’s effort from the defense (defensive back Dave Hanni had five solo tackles and four assisted tackles, while linebacker Braden Doupe had four solos and six assists), the Buccaneers allowed the Drillers offense too much time and space in the second half.

But, as is the case with many sports team, before you can learn how to win, you have to learn how to overcome a loss.

And that’s what this offseason will be all about for the Buccaneers.

The light though, is visible at the end of the tunnel, and I fully expect Sedgwick and Burris, should they return, will have this club gunning for a top three finish next season, and maybe, just maybe, a longer post season.

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

‘Mitts don’t just warm hands. They warm hearts’: Mitts for Many Program launches

Donate new or lightly used mittens to bin in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Centre

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony welcomes athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official opening of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

LOCATED: Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Amanda Kucher was last seen at the Innisfail 7-Eleven on Feb. 15

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Most Read