There is plenty of optimism in the camp of the Central Alberta Buccaneers as they get set for the start of another Alberta Football League season.
Depth at a few key positions and good turnouts to practice are the reasons head coach Duane Brown feels 2013 is going to be a strong year for the Bucs.
“At receiver we have 12 guys who could start whereas last year we were struggling at four,” said Brown.
The one piece which the Bucs always seem to struggle with lately is getting the big bodies out to play on the offensive line. It’s an issue which leaves Brown wondering out loud where these guys might be hiding when football season rolls around.
“It’s holding us a back a little bit,” he admitted. “But it’s not going to stop us. If we can fill that void then we’ll be laughing.”
One huge advantage the Buccaneers have in their corner is the fact the schedule has them playing six home games this season with the only road trip late in the season when the Bucs head to Grande Prairie to face the Drillers.
The third year coach says making a statement by winning those home games would help towards dispelling the myth that the Bucs are an easy touch in the schedule.
“We have an unearned chip on our shoulder as a group here where we think we’re a lot better than we’ve been,” he said. “We haven’t proven anything in a very long time and this year is the year this team has to actually step forward and back up all the talk we’ve had.”
Brown says with the potential this team has and the friendly schedule this seems to be the prime time for the Bucs to move up a notch within the senior football league hierarchy.
“It now becomes this group of players’ opportunity and responsibility to fulfill those expectations,” he said.
Defense is expected to be the strong suit for the Bucs under new coordinator Devon Hand, a former Buccaneer, who is bringing in a system which Brown says is going to be very aggressive.
A pair of key players on the defense will not be in the lineup as Todd Lewis blew out his knee in practice and middle linebacker Curtis Dreiger has decided to call it a career.
But former Buc Mike Clarkson has returned to the team after playing with the Alberta Golden Bears.
At the quarterback position the Bucs are solid with Byron Stearns back for another year and Andrew Stannix ready to step in when needed, Brown said.
The Buccaneers open their regular season against the Edmonton Stallions on June 1 with a 7 p.m. start at M.E. Global Athletic Park in Lacombe.