The Central Alberta Buccaneers are set for the biggest football game of the regular season this Saturday.
The Bucs (6-1) will host the undefeated Fort McMurray Monarchs (7-0) Saturday at Setters Place in Red Deer’s Great Chief Park. If Central Alberta wins by 23 or more points, it will finish first place in the Alberta Football League.
Vince Roth, Bucs co-chair and offensive lineman, said it’s important the team finishes first and gets home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“This game has huge implications for us,” Roth said. “It’s very likely a preview of the league final and … getting home field advantage through the whole playoffs is a huge deal, especially considering we would likely have to travel to Fort McMurray otherwise.”
This will be the second time the Bucs will take on Fort McMurray this season – the first meeting was a 32-10 defeat in Central Alberta’s first game of the season.
“I think we’ve come a long way since then,” said Roth. “A team’s bond is built through the actual course of a game. You can only do so much in practice – nothing builds chemistry like actual game situations. Not having that the first time we met the Monarchs was a detriment to us, but now that we have that – we know who we are.”
Roth said the team will need to follow its game plan to come out on top.
“We need to stick to the basics on offence and complete our passes and keep our drives alive. Keeping our defence off the field and fresh is the big key,” he said.
It’s important the Bucs don’t take their semi-final opponent lightly, regardless of whether they win or lose Saturday, Roth added.
Last year Central Alberta went 5-3 and lost in the semi-final to the eventual champion Calgary Gators, a team that is now defunct.
Roth said the team expects to win it all this season.
“‘Championship’ is a word that’s been said at every practice, even since the indoor workouts back in January. We’re pretty focused on getting to nationals. Honestly anything short of that would be a disappointment,” he said.
If the Bucs win the league championship, nationals will be held in Red Deer in September.
This Saturday’s game is the Bucs’ Food Bank game, so attendees are encouraged to bring donations.
Tickets are $5 at the gate; kids get in for free.