Out in front 38-0 by the third quarter, the Central Alberta Buccaneers gave Lacombe-raised Judah Knipp some snaps as the quarterback.
He may be the third-stringer, but with the comfortable lead the hometown kid got into the game on his turf at the M.E. Global Field on Saturday.
“It’s great for Judah, it’s great to have a local player on his homefield and in his hometown and get some reps,” said Bucs head coach Devon Hand.
The Bucs defence stifled the visiting St. Albert Stars limiting them to a touchdown and a two-point convert, as the Bucs finished with a 41-8 victory.
The points for the Stars came with 1:46 to play in the fourth quarter. Hand admits the shutout would have been nice, but was happier to get his second and third string guys into the game.
Up 16-0 in the second quarter, starting quarterback Brandon Leyh threw a pass to receiver Jesse McPhail, that the Red Deer receiver turned into a 99-yard touchdown. The score gave the Bucs a 23-0 lead with more than five minutes to halftime.
Much effort was put into strengthening the Bucs offence in the offseason. In their first three games, the team has put up 51, 43 and 41 points.
“We can’t rest until we get to the big game, which is the national championship, so you take each win in stride and focus on the next one,” said Hand.
“We have some guys who can make big plays, some explosive play makers. We just have to compete and those guys will make some plays.”
But the defence, which has been the Bucs calling card for the past few seasons, showed its worth registering five turnovers including a pick six, forcing a conceded safety and blocking a kick, all before halftime.
The win improves the Bucs record to 3-0 and in a three-way tie for first place in the Alberta Football League with the Calgary Gators and the Lloydminster Vandals.
The Bucs now embark on a lengthy road trip as they will not play at home again until July 23. It starts with a road trip to Lloydminster to face the undefeated Vandals on June 18.
Then after two weeks of no games, they visit the Calgary Wolfpack on July 9 and then the Calgary Gators on July 16.
Their next home game is on July 23 against the Airdrie Irish at 6 p.m. at the M.E. Global Field in Lacombe.