The Central Alberta Buccaneers were hoping to flip the script against the defending AFL champions Fort McMurray Monarchs after suffering their first loss of the season against the Calgary Gators.
Unfortunately, the script continued to favour the antagonists, as the Bucs fell to their chief rivals 47-7.
“What happened was a similar story to the Gators, with a few different issues,” Offensive Tackle Vincent Roth said.
“I don’t think our offense was clicking the way it needed to click and I think our defence did a hell of a job keeping us in that game more or less until they started running out of gas.
“If you look at the quarter-by-quarter, you’ll see that Fort Mac pulled away from us in the second half once our defence started tiring out.”
The Monarchs are a tough challenge on any occasion and are a good measuring stick for the Bucs, considering their national championship last year.
“The Monarchs are the best semi-pro team in the country,” Bucs veteran Tylor Johannesson told Bucs Community Representative Todd Lewis.
“All of their starting players played at least junior football (Huskies, Colts, etc). They have ex-CFL players and award-winning university players.”
The loss allows the Bucs to reevaluate some of their strategies heading into the Canada Day bye week.
“We have had this conversation as a team in the last 36 hours,” Roth said.
“There are things we need to improve on, I don’t think you can put it all on one guy’s shoulders. Everybody needs to look at where they can improve their own personal games and elevate themselves. If we can do that, we have a definite shot at some hardware at the end of the season.”
Roth noted the experience and depth do not seem to be in the Bucs’ favour currently, however he feels they can improve on that.
“We are missing some veteran guys who have experience in big games,” he said.
“I think that showed this year so far. We have some guys who are a little green and that means more nerves come into play. Things get rushed sometimes.
“We also have a lack of depth. Last year, we had 60-plus guys on our roster, whereas this year we are in the high 30s. When you are in a banging, heavy game like we had on Saturday – guys wear out. You can’t hang with a big roster when you’re are wearing out.”
The two double-digit losses haven’t diminished the confidence in the Bucs’ locker room, according to Roth.
“I think it is still pretty high,” he said. I don’t think anyone expected us in this league to hang with the Gators or the Monarchs.
“The scores don’t necessarily show it but we did. I think a lot of guys have taken away that we are as good a team as we think and maybe even a little better if we find the fixes we need to find.”
As the season progresses, the Monarchs-Bucs rivalry promises to deliver, as several players from both sides of the aisle were chirping on the Red Deer Express Twitter post.
Roth explained tthe trash-talk is all in good fun and that it didn’t affect the outcome of the game
“I think a lot of the chirping from their end was a tactic to get under our skin,” he said.
“Being a guy who is active on social media as I can be sometimes, I really don’t let anything on social media get under our skin. It had no effect really.”
He added players getting involved on social media can bring some fun to the league.
“People are sometimes more apt to look at the fireworks going back and forth between opposing players then they are from a couple promotional tweets. I’m sure it brought more people on board with the team – which is always good,” he said.
The Bucs will look to move to 3-2 in two weeks against the expansion Parkland Predators.
“From what I have seen from their tape and the chatter around the league is they are short on roster numbers,” Roth said. “They actually ended up forfeiting their game last week against Fort Mac. They didn’t have the manpower to bring there.
“I don’t expect a loss in that one. I’m pretty confident we will come away with a ‘W’ in that game but football is football and you can’t walk in with arrogance or you will get smacked.”