Bucs sail past Drillers in season opener


Central Alberta Buccaneer Jamal Henry leaps over a sprawling Preston Ostrom of the Grande Prairie Drillers during last year’s season opener. The Bucs defeated the Drillers 44-14 on Saturday at Legion Field in Grande Prairie. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)

Ashli Barrett – Lacombe Globe – Friday, June 2, 2017

It took the Central Alberta Buccaneers a quarter to get the rust out of their sails, but the pirate crew bested their rivals from Grande Prairie once more.

In what was almost a repeat of the last two seasons, the Bucs plundered a 44-14 win from the Drillers to open the 2017 Alberta Football League season.

The game was the first for new Buccaneers Head Coach Fred Knip, who said he was pleased overall with the game and the way the team played.

“It was awesome. The boys played marvelous. It was really nice to see the unity and cohesiveness on the team,” he said.

“We were all on one boat, rowing in the same direction towards one goal.”

That goal, of course, was to put a mark in the win column. While they achieved it, it wasn’t without some adversity.

After a 90-minute marathon of a first quarter, the pirate crew trailed their opponents 14-13.

“They scored twice on us and both times it was the middle linebacker,” said Knip. “The play called for him to edge in towards the weak side and the outside linebacker tweaked out. There was a big hole and they took advantage of that twice. “

In the second, however, they adjusted their defence, and the team finally started to execute.

The Drillers wouldn’t score again.

“I came on late, so the offence I thought we would initiate was something we needed to install,” he said. “We missed a couple hours of practice this week in terms of putting the offence together.

“Rusty, is maybe a good word. We were just trying to work the cobwebs out of the gears and by the time the second quarter came, third quarter, the offence started going.”

At the half, the Bucs were ahead 31-14, and in the third, they started to generate more opportunities.

Tylor Johannesson accounted for a few field goals, with others, including Axsivier Lawrence, Pascal Plante and Jared Bouret stepping up.

Going forward, however, there’s plenty to work on.

“Our defence is very stable. We might have to tweak it a bit, but it is excellent,” said Knip.

“Offence, we need to work on reading the cover. Are the corners high? Are the corners low?”

The Drillers, Knip said, usually played with a cover 3 and the Bucs didn’t always make it easy on themselves in terms of how they responded.

“That’s something we’re going to work on in the next couple of days – short passes and the open flats.”

The Bucs’ home opener is this Saturday at ME Global Athletic Park against the Lloydminster Vandals at 6 p.m.

Admission to the game is $5, free for kids, and there will be a bouncy castle supplied by FunHaus to mark the occasion.