Through the first four games of the 2010 Alberta Football League season, the Red Deer Buccaneers have proven one thing.
They are a great first half football team.
Now if only they could figure out what to do when the second half starts.
The AFL leading Calgary Wolfpack was at Great Chief Park this past Saturday, and posted a 59-31 win over the home squad.
It was a game, though, that Red Deer could have had.
“We had a pretty good first half,” said Tim Burris, co-coach and defensive coordinator.
“But we just kind of lost our focus in the second half. At halftime, we were only trailing by eight points, and we were pretty close and feeling pretty good. But I reminded the guys that we are a bad second half team and I challenged them to turn another page by having a better second half. The effort was there, the heart was there, but our focus, the mental aspect, we had nothing. And that’s what caused us to come up short on Saturday.”
Despite the absence of Kyle Sedgwick, offensive coordinator – who was away to deal with personal issues, the Bucs did have some success on when they had the ball.
Quarterback Josh Achtemichuk completed 20 of 36 passes for 241 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
The kick return game was also a bright spot, as was running back Ian Keetch, who rushed for three touchdowns in the game.
But the defense just wasn’t there, as Red Deer allowed Calgary to run rampant on the field, with the Wolfpack putting up more than 700 yards of net offense.
“We’re a young team. There’s a bit of inexperience and what we’re trying to focus on with the guys is paying attention to details,” explained Burris.
“Obviously, it’s not like a light switch, where you can just turn on the focus. We just have to keep working on the small details. You know, alignment, are you lined up properly, making sure everyone knows their responsibilities. Everyone has to do their job.
“I think once we realize that by just doing the job you’re supposed to do, we’ll be alright,” he added. “Right now, we just have too many guys trying to do their jobs, and then the jobs of two other guys. That doesn’t work. With football, you’ve got to be able to trust the other 11 guys that are playing with you on the field.”
Saturday’s game was the first time in almost two weeks that the Bucs found themselves in a real game situation, but Burris doesn’t think the bye week had anything to do with the loss, suggesting that injuries maybe played a bigger role in the game.
“We had a great week at practice,” Burris said.
“All of the guys were there, so I don’t think the bye week had any effect. It was more of what we were missing. To start the game, we were without Curtis Dreger, our middle linebacker. That’s how Calgary scored on the opening drive. We just didn’t have an answer up the middle. And with Kyle away, our offense was kind off all over the place. We had Josh calling all the plays, instead of Kyle, so we were missing a little bit of that leadership that normally comes from the sidelines.”
With the loss, the Bucs drop to 1-3, with just three games left to go on the schedule before the playoffs begin.
“If we want to get back to the playoffs, we need to learn how to win,” said Burris who, as a university player with St. Mary’s, made it to two Vanier Cup games, winning it all once.
“It gets frustrating, but at the same time, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot with some of our mental mistakes. The positive I take out of this game is that we know we can compete with anyone in this league. If we can cut down on those mental mistakes, then we’ll keep getting better.”
The Bucs will hit the road for the first time this season, heading up to Lloydminster for a Saturday night game against the Vandals.
Kick off is set for 3 p.m.