The Central Alberta Buccaneers took on the Fort McMurray Monarchs last Saturday in Lacombe at the ME Global Athletic Park for the Alberta Football League game of the week.
The Buccaneers, who were fresh off a 66-6 victory against the Lloydminster Vandals, with Monarchs having effectively conquered the Airdrie Irish 100-0 in an all out shut down.
Despite a strong defensive start penalties throughout the game saw the Monarchs slowly gaining points on the board against the hosting Buccaneers ending the first half with a score of 23-3 for the visitors. The Bucs first three points came from a successful 30-plus yard field goal from defensive back Tyler Johannesson following a massive catch and run from running back Tanner Green.
The first half saw the Buccaneers offense struggling to tie plays together with heavy defense coming from the Monarchs bench.
With a comeback still in sight for the Buccaneers going into the second half, the Bucs hit the field hard with the offense gaining yards early in the third quarter. The team’s defense also caught a break in the third as they saw the opportunity to take down Monarch’s quarterback Carson Williams.
However following a missed tackle, Williams slipped passed for a successful convert to make the game 26-3.
The fourth quarter saw Johannesson in action again with a monumental interception of a pass from the Monarch’s quarterback making his way 83 yards down the field to cross the line for the Buccaneers and score the team’s only touchdown of the day making the score 26-9 with 7:09 remaining in the game.
The final score of 33-9 came for the Monarchs following an interception by the visiting team, which they returned and successfully converted.
Buccaneers Head Coach Devon Hand explained penalties were a huge part of the team’s loss on Saturday as well as have been a factor throughout the season.
“We did a better job of playing with a bit more urgency and we were certainly more resilient this week,” explained Hand who is in his first year with the team as head coach. “We have this habit when we are up against elite teams that we don’t take advantage of the opportunities we have.
“What it comes down to is the mental toughness and composure of a team – when we face adversity, how do we react? Are we folding like lawn chairs or are we coming together as a team to compete at that level?”
Hand said the team’s mental toughness is increasing with every game, adding he hopes this loss sparks the sense of urgency needed as they venture into the end of the season.
Last Saturday’s loss left the Monarchs in second place in the league, with the Buccaneers sitting tied for third with the St. Albert Stars.
The St. Albert Stars are currently sitting with a 4-2 record, the same as the Buccaneers, with the Monarchs now seeing a 6-1 record. Currently the Calgary Gators remain the league’s only undefeated team with an unblemished 7-0 season thus far.
“What we need to do is realize we are going to get one more chance at reacting to adversity this season,” said Hand. “We need to build on our skills as a team to be ready to face these tougher teams.”
Up next for the Buccaneers is a home game on Aug. 8th at 6 p.m. against their tied for third place opponents, the St. Albert Stars. On Aug. 15th the Bucs will travel to face the Airdrie Irish.