After a long spring camp and a Week 1 bye, the Central Alberta Buccaneers will finally begin their journey towards a national championship when they hit the road to play the Fort McMurray Monarchs on Saturday.
“It is looking good. I am excited,” Offensive Lineman Vince Roth said. “We had the advantage of the Week 1 bye which allowed us to go to St. Albert to watch the Monarchs play.
“I think that will play to our advantage and I honestly think we have one of the most talented rosters this team has seen.”
Roth and a cadre of Bucs saw first-hand what is brewing up north and are prepping this week to ensure they have the upper-hand on a team that has been their principle rival for the last several Alberta Football League seasons.
“I don’t think Fort Mac is ever a team to sleep on,” Roth said. “I know they have added a few weapons and I know they have lost a few key guys as well. In hearing some of their interviews and seeing what they have put on the field, they have brought in some guys who have some talent.
“It will be interesting to go head-to-head with them and I don’t think the last couple years will be a benchmark for anything. It is essentially two talented and totally different teams.
“I am excited to be on the side of what will probably be the dominant team.”
A re-tooled offence will be key to the Bucs’ journey this season.
“Our receiving core is looking great and having (Quarterback) Brandon (Leyh) in the backfield with that gun of his is nice. As long as we, as an o-line, can buy him some time, I think he is going to be able to do some amazing things.
“He has a great arm and the sky is the limit with our offense.”
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs’ defence is shaping up to be imposing.
“Being an o-line and practicing against our front seven — I am glad it is just practicing and not playing,” Roth said. “They will be a frustrating bunch for a lot of teams and it is going to get nasty in the trenches.
“It isn’t a terrible thing. Last year we started on the road in Grande Prairie and it is nice to get a bus trip in early. It can solidify the binds we have built through camp and that will play to our favour.”
The team is looking forward to spending some time together on the road up to Fort Mac.
“Hostile territory isn’t ideal when it comes down to game time, but I think it will be fun,” he said.
“You can feel the tension building and guys are getting a little chippy. You want to get going — especially with having the Week 1 bye. We are ready and we have been ready for a couple weeks.
“Practice will be good this week now that we have some information on Monarchs.”
Following this weekend, the Bucs will have their home-opener at their new home at Great Chief Park on June 9th against the Airdrie Irish.
“We are getting some final details nailed down regarding our fan experience at Setters Place. We will have some good things happening and it will definitely be worth the five dollars for people who want to come watch some football,” Roth said.