Recently named the best football team in the Canadian Major Football League, the Central Alberta Buccaneers steamrolled the Airdrie Irish 77-10, improving to 7-0.
With a grin, head coach Devon Hand said the team hasn’t played a complete game yet this season but has managed to manhandle their opponents.
“Not once have we played four complete quarters of football,” said Hand. “As scary as that is, it can get a lot better.”
Saturday in Lacombe at the M.E. Global Field the Bucs jumped out to a commanding lead, 39-0 after the first quarter and 63-3 after the first half of the Alberta Football League matchup.
Big plays from slotbacks Jamal Henry and Jesse McPhail and wide reciever Josh Blanchard were key to the torching. Henry returned a punt 105 yards for a touchdown, McPahil had a 55-yard touchdown reception to open the third quarter and Blanchard caught an 85-yard touchdown pass.
It wasn’t long before starting quarterback Brandon Leyh was pulled from the game as the blowout was evident early. It was also beneficial for Leyh, who wasn’t at 100 per cent after a tough game against the Calgary Gators a week prior.
“I’m on the same page with the receivers and they’re making crazy plays week in and week out,” said Leyh. “The offence is rolling along and the defence is starting to get back to where they were last year.”
The Mount Allison University Mounties grad said he has developed good rapport with Henry.
“He’s pretty special to say the least,” said Leyh. “I can’t give him enough high praise, nobody can cover him in the league and it makes it easy for me.”
On Defence, Steven Adu returned two interceptions for touchdowns as part of a strong effort that held the Irish off the board until the second quarter and out of the endzone until the fourth quarter.
“The end goal is the national championships and until you get there and are crowned, that’s the focus,” said Hand.
“The ranking lets you know you’ve arrived on the scene. That’s been the whole goal since I took over and it was nice to see. But until we win, it doesn’t matter.”
The Bucs have a week off for the August long weekend and close out their season against the Edmonton Raiders. The Bucs have clinched top spot in the AFL and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
The Raiders have the potential to be the Bucs first playoff opponent if they win their first round game.
“I think we’re going to get them twice in a row,” said Hand. “That makes it an important game.
The Bucs and Raiders square off on Aug. 6 at the M.E. Global Field in Lacombe. The game starts at 6 p.m.