The Central Alberta Buccaneers are hoping for a repeat of their season opener come kickoff this weekend.
That’ll be a tall task, given they welcome to town the defending Alberta Football League and senior national champion Fort McMurray Monarchs.
The two teams have a long history and deep seeded rivalry. Bucs GM/ offensive lineman Vince Roth said he expects a hard-fought battle in the Bucs home opener Saturday.
“We’re always fired up to see the Monarchs. They’ve given enough good battles over the past few years that anytime they come to town is a good time,” Roth said.
After a 31-21 win to open the AFL season over the Calgary Wolfpack on the road, Roth said they had a few kinks to work out in practice but the new-look group is coming together nicely.
“There were a few places where guys have room for improvement. (Wednesday) with our practice, we were able to address some of those issues… I think the guys are pretty jacked up and get this one,” he said.
“There were some guys that were pleasantly surprised by the level of ball we’re playing. You see them go from a little apprehensive to fully bought in and excited.”
Quarterback Jarrett Burzak guided the Bucs to the win and is expected to play pivot Saturday against the Monarchs.
While the Monarchs are the league champs, their roster looks different than last season, but that’s no reason to take them lightly. Fort McMurray had a bye in week one to start the year, so the Bucs don’t really have a scouting report on them.
Either way, Roth thinks the home opener should be a fun one for football fans.
“With us and the Monarchs, you can always look forward to a high-skill level, high-energy and high-speed, high-impact football. It’s the real deal out there,” he said.
“A lot of these guys have played at the university level or higher. We know what we’re doing and we put on a show.”
Kickoff for the Bucs home opener is 6 p.m. on Saturday at Setters Place field at Great Chief Park.