BIG CRUNCH - Matt Merkley and the Central Alberta Buccaneers would power through the St. Albert Stars to take sole possession of second place in the AFL. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

Bucs’ manhandle St. Albert to take second in AFL

56-8 win puts Bucs’ right behind Ft. Mac in AFL standings

The Central Alberta Buccaneers were coming off their bye week looking to take sole possession of second place in the Alberta Football League.

The only thing standing in their way was the St. Albert Stars, who came into Red Deer with the league’s leading rush game.

Luckily for the Bucs’, the AFL’s leading passer — quarterback Brandon Leyh — would overpower the Stars on the way to a 56-8 win.

“That was a good day,” Receiver Ben Hnatiuk said. “Everything worked out perfect. Our o-line protected the quarterback and allowed him to make moves”

The Bucs’ would ease into the game, with neither team managing to find the scoreboard until 6:15 remaining of the first when Tylor Johannesson ran back and missed Stars 35-yard field goal attempt for a touchdown.

The Bucs’ would follow that up with Leyh finding Hnatiuk for a 25-yard connection, putting Central Alberta up 14-0.

“He (Leyh) is a big body in the pocket. He can stand in there, take the hit and move the ball down field. I have never played with a quarterback that is able to do that,” Hnatiuk said.

The home team would keep on rolling in the second quarter when Leyh found Preston Bailey for a three-yard score, putting the Bucs’ in control with a 21-0 lead.

The Stars would have the answer with 3:18 remaining after quarterback Troy Pappas found Adam Nesbitt for the score, putting them within striking distance 21-8 after the two-point conversion.

Hnatiuk would have the answer a minute later after Leyh found him deep in the endzone for 31-yard score, reestablishing the 21 point margin.

The Bucs’ would keep the scoreboard flashing after Bailey caught his second ball of the game to put his team up 35-8.

Josh Blanchard would continue to rub salt on the Stars wound after he caught another Brandon Leyh pass, his fifth of the game, leading to a halftime score of 42-8.

Hnatiuk would keep the Bucs’ pillaging in the third quarter after he scored his third touchdown of the game, putting the Bucs’ up 49-8 early in the quarter.

Blanchard would follow that up with an 80 yard run after a shovel past, extending the debilitating lead to to the final score 56-8 Buccaneers.

Hnatiuk finished the game with three touchdowns and Leyh through seven of his own in a game to put the 4-1 Bucs’ into second place.

Hnatiuk credited the team’s success to team work.

“We have bonded pretty well. We all get along pretty good. As far as the game goes, we have great chemistry,” Hnatiuk said. “Today we showed we have a running attack too which will help us in the long run.”

Central Alberta will now travel to Grande Prairie next week.

Hnatiuk said they have their tilt with first place Fort McMurray marked down but they still have to come ready against Grande Prairie.

“That is who our eyes are on now,” he said.

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Canada Winter Games welcome message from Mayor Tara Veer

Feb. 15th marks the beginning of community history-in-the-making

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

LOCATED: Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Amanda Kucher was last seen at the Innisfail 7-Eleven on Feb. 15

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

Jody Wilson-Raybould suddenly quit the cabinet this week, but Trudeau isn’t saying

Most Read