It may be the dog days of winter, but that hasn’t stopped the Central Alberta Buccaneers from gaining steam.
The Bucs have held two of their four winter workouts at The Dome Sports complex this month and have also made some serious gains in the player personal department.
Over the course of the last few weeks, the team has announced several player commitments for the 2020 Alberta Football League season, one of the biggest being former quarterback Brandon Leyh.
“I think both years that he’s played, he’s led the league by far in passing. He’s in the position to break a couple of lifetime league records and he wants to get that done, and we want to help him,” said Bucs team president Vince Roth.
On offence, in addition to Leyh, standout receiver Axsixver Lawrence is back in the mix.
Two unexpected adds for the Bucs included Rey Arcega, a lineman who played at collegiate football at Simon Fraser University and can play both sides of the ball as well as linebacker Adam Kuntz. Kuntz, a Camrose native played four seasons in the Atlantic University Sport conference from 2014-18.
Veteran Mark Fay is also back on defence for the Bucs along with linebacker Ian Keetch, who took the year off last season.
“There were a handful of guys who took the season off last year for personal reasons, it’s a big commitment to play football. If you’ve got big life things on, you can’t necessarily play. Some of those guys got that out of the way last year and are able to come back now,” added Roth.
“Other guys are just year on, a year off, give the body a break kinda thing. It’s good to see the ebb and flow happening all at once. We’ve got some quality guys coming back… key pieces in the past that we are definitely happy to have back in the room.”
Last year, the Bucs lost a heartbreaker to the Calgary Wolfpack in the AFL final and are hoping to avenge that loss this time around.
After a break for Family Day, they will hold the final two workouts of the month, on Feb. 22 and Feb. 29. Roth noted the team has had about 40 players at each workout so far. The remaining two will cost $10 each to participate in and are mostly getting about getting prospective players up to speed.
“Basically, it’s an early installation of some of our systems and introduce our systems to our new guys and refresh our veterans with what we do. It’s essentially a full practice,” he said.
The Bucs will open the AFL season on May 23 in Calgary, before hosting the Fort McMurray Monarchs on June 6.