It was supposed to be a showdown for second place in the Alberta Football League but only one team showed up for the battle.
The Central Alberta Buccaneers hammered the St. Albert Stars 45-14 Saturday night at ME Global Athletic Park to leave no doubt who was the better team.
“It was very one-sided,” said Bucs Head Coach Duane Brown.
“I believe that was the most complete game I’ve ever seen this team play and I’m not talking this season. I think it’s the most complete game this team has played period, in the history of this team.”
The home team got off to a rocky start as quarterback Byron Stearns was picked for a touchdown on the opening drive but the Bucs then punished the Stars and piled on 45 straight points over the remainder of the game, controlling both sides of the line and not allowing the Stars to gain any momentum from the early turnover.
“We took a message and sent a message to the entire league and said ‘We’re here to play’,” said Brown.
The Bucs relentless defence had the Stars wondering where the pressure was coming from all night long and limited any sort of running game. In the second half St. Albert went a little more to the air but was met with more blitzes and an interception, scuttling any chance of a comeback.
Brown was quick to agree his ferocious defence was a major force but added the offence did its share of dominating the overwhelmed Stars defence.
“The offence controlled the ball, they had long marches which they haven’t been doing a lot of this year,” said Brown.
The biggest change in the Bucs this season is a consistent offensive line and the result shows up on the scoreboard as the hoggies simply overpower the other team’s defence.
Getting a chance to skip past a quarterfinal playoff game was the reward for the Bucs and Brown says he added a bit to the incentive by mentioning to his players the Stars were technically the only other team the Bucs have not beaten in their 11-year history.
The Stars walked away with an exhibition win at the start of the season (the Bucs beat the Calgary Wolfpack for the first time earlier this month).
Brown says Saturday’s game was a bonus for the back-up players as well because they got to see a lot of action with plenty of time left in the game.
“It was phenomenal to see the kids making impact plays all over the field.”
Also on Saturday night the Grande Prairie Drillers were upset in a rain-shortened game by the Stallions in Edmonton which makes the season finale in GP a moot point when it comes to locking down second place.
“I think it takes a little pressure off,” said Brown. “But we have almost three weeks off after this so we don’t want to go into this (the playoffs) sitting on a loss.”
The extra time off will allow a few bumps and bruises to heal, added Brown.
He says the Bucs are in a very good spot right now heading into the final week of the season and expects the majority of the roster to be in good health once the playoff round starts for them on Aug. 10th.
In fact, the Stars just might have to make a return to Lacombe to revisit the nightmare they just experienced and Brown says things are lining up just right for a team which was 1-5 last season.
“We always said we’re a championship team this year and that’s are only goal.”
It seems the stars may be in alignment for the Buccaneers.