The Alberta Football League has been around in its current configuration for a little more than a decade and through those years the talent level has continued to rise.
In the early 2000s former Calgary Stampeder receiver and return man Peewee Smith was somewhat the poster child for the league as people who knew football knew Peewee and came to watch. There were other players who didn’t have the profile of Smith but certainly could play the game at a very high level just the same.
In later years the AFL saw players like current CFL’ers J.R. LaRose, who plays now for the B.C Lions and Grant Shaw, a member of the Edmonton Eskimos, take the field with teams for a couple of years.
There have been others over the years who were former university standouts and some who would play in the AFL until their junior football teams started up training camp.
The league has seen growth and interest from fans as well because these good players were viewing the AFL as so much more than a beer league. Rest assured, there are a few adult beverages consumed following a game but the beer league moniker has gone down the drain as the league attracts more talent into the fold.
For the first time I can recall the AFL will actually display a good chunk of that talent this weekend with the AFL All Star game at ME Global Athletic Park in Lacombe.
It will be a north versus south clash and the Central Alberta Buccaneers are well represented on the North squad with 13 selections after a 5-1 season.
Quarterback Byron Stearns, running back Jamie Blinkhorn, receivers Chad Murray, Corey Pusey and Matt Merkley, offensive lineman Sean O’Donnell, defensive linemen Ian Keetch, Dave Henderson and Kerry Lynch and defensive backfield members Kenton Poelzer, Mark Fay, Greg Fowler and Tylor Johnson are the locals playing in the game.
Many of these players are graduates of the high school programs around Central Alberta and have continued to play the game at this level.
The game starts at 7 p.m. and if you are a football fan I would suggest checking it out.
The talent is there. All they need are fans to enjoy it.