In a season that has been less than stellar, the Central Alberta Buccaneers have a shot a making all that disappointment fade away with one solid performance.
“It has not been the year we wanted going into it,” said Head Coach Duane Brown.
The injury bug sank its teeth deep in to the Alberta Football league team and combined with some other unfortunate circumstances managed to scuttle the Bucs season to this point.
“We went into the year expecting to have some bodies that unfortunately for what ever reason couldn’t come,” said Brown. “You go from a group of guys who had four league all stars on it to a group that have no league all stars on it.”
Add to the fact the Bucs were short-changed in the game column after the Edmonton Army team forfeited in early July and you could see why this team was feeling the same way a man walking the plank might.
“The Army game was a huge mental disadvantage,” explained Brown, adding the Bucs were viewing this as a very good match up and a real confidence booster facing a team they were expected to beat.
So with a week off the Bucs prepared to face the powerhouse Grande Prairie Drillers at ME Global Athletic Park and they put up quite a fight with the Drillers driving home with a very hard-earned 19-0 victory against a still watered down version of the Bucs.
As fate would have it, the Bucs will now face that same Drillers team on the road in the first round of the playoffs and Brown said the previous game works well in preparing them for the matchup in the north.
“It gave us great insight into what they do and we can do against them.”
The Bucs have had the past week off in order to prepare for the Drillers and Brown was happy about the fact Grande Prairie had to travel last week to play a hard hitting game against the league leading Lloydminster Vandals, which the host team won handily.
Another bonus from being on the bye week was it allowed several players who have been missing due to injury a chance to heal, including last years AFL rookie of the year quarterback Byron Stearns.
“He should be at the game without any issue and a few other of our injured bodies should be back as well,” said Brown.
He feels the Bucs have a legitimate chance to win this game and going in as the underdog means they have no reason to leave anything on the bus come game time.
“That’s exactly the game plan. We have nothing to lose and they do so it is truly one of those games where you can go in and give it all you have and do the best you can,” said Brown, suggesting all the pressure to win will be firmly placed on the shoulders of the Drillers.
Brown says the Bucs will spend time going over the game film of the Drillers game in order to pick up some tendencies of their opponent but he adds his team is certainly going to be healthier than the team which hit the field almost two weeks ago and came up with such a strong effort.
He is also convinced his teams mental status is on the mend as well and expects with this being playoff time the heart and desire to win will rise to the surface.
“Who is willing to take that extra step and who is willing to get up after taking the big hit.”