The end of the 2012 Alberta Football League season was a mixed bag for the Central Alberta Buccaneers.
The team had a difficult regular season but did make the playoffs, losing a tough one up in Grande Prairie – a game which they led at half time.
“That was a great building point to lead us into this year which is a year where we’re kind of counting on all that hard work to pay off and take us to that next level,” said Head Coach Duane Brown.
The Bucs were also shortchanged on home games at the new ME Global Park in Lacombe after the Edmonton Renegades dropped out but this year things will be different starting with the fact the Bucs will have six home games this year.
There are also some changes in coaching staff with Ollie Stearns taking over the offensive coordinator duties bringing with him some junior coaching experience to the offence.
Former Buccaneer defensive back Devon Hand will direct the defense and Brown says he’s excited about having two experienced coaches working the sidelines with him.
One thing which has plagued the team over the last few years is the paper-thin depth of the offensive line.
“It’s my biggest recruitment focus in the off season is to go find those big bodies,” he said. “I joke that maybe I need to hang around the buffets and hand out business cards.
“We need those big guys out because that’s what makes or breaks a team.”
Linebacker Todd Lewis agrees and can’t understand why the big boys aren’t coming out to play some football in a very competitive league where you’ll find former CIS, junior and even CFL players sprinkled throughout the eight teams .
“There’s not as many sports for the bigger guys and I think the O-line in football kind of fits their niche,” he said. “They don’t have to run around a lot and they get to beat people up. I’d have thought they’d be coming like they were selling hotcakes.”
There is one new team added to the roster with the St. Albert Stars joining the AFL ranks of the Edmonton Stallions, Edmonton Army, Grande Prairie Drillers, Calgary Wolfpack, Calgary Gators and the defending national champion Lloydminster Vandals.
The Bucs will hold an information session Feb. 16th starting at 7 p.m. in the Gull Lake room at the Red Deer Lodge where interested players will find out about league fees, coaching staff, practice schedules and just about anything else you need to know to play in the AFL this summer.