With over 20 years of football experience, Tylor Johanesson makes the game look easy.
After taking a year away from the game the Sylvan Lake native returned to the Central Alberta Buccaneers on Saturday for his 13th Alberta Football League season.
In a 25-20 loss at the hands of the Airdrie Irish, the Bucs wide receiver caught two touchdowns in an exciting matchup to kick off the season in Lacombe.
He explained there’s more to it than just eating Wheaties and vegetables.
“I’m gluten-free so definitely not Wheaties,” he laughed.
“I’ve been playing football a long time and our quarterback Brett [Bylsma] I’ve actually coached him in Sylvan Lake since he was 13 years old. I coached him for six years and now he’s throwing me touchdown passes.
“It’s pretty cool, it’s special for me, and I mean he throws a great ball. I was lucky to get under a couple of them and thankfully it worked out today.”
After Airdrie scored on their opening drive, Central Alberta answered. Second-year quarterback Bylsma led the Buccaneers down the field with a pair of big gains through the air. Once they were within 20 years Bylsma found Johanesson open in the endzone.
The first half was a defensive battle as no one would score again until the second half tied 7-7.
In the third quarter, momentum seemed to swing when the Irish intercepted one of Bylsma’s passes. The turnover led to a 40-yard run by Airdrie’s running back to take a 13-7 lead.
However, later in the quarter central Alberta recovered a fumbled punt on Airdrie’s 30-yard line. In the next play, Bylsma found his favourite receiver for the second time of the game in the endzone to tie the game 13-13.
In the final frame, Airdrie retook the lead 19-13 after marching down the field but missed the extra point. This left the door open for the Bucs to take advantage.
Runningback Tony Morelli rumbled into the endzone to take a 20-19 lead with approximately eight minutes left.
Airdrie answered once again but missed a two-point conversion. The Buccaneers marched the field again but this time the Irish stopped the home team from scoring to hold on for the victory.
This was the first time the two teams have faced off since the Irish knocked out the Bucs in the AFL semi-final last season.
Despite the loss, the Bucs’ effort was encouraging and they looked much improved since last year when they only won a single game.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Johanesson said.
“This is a really young group. A lot of guys are new to this league… We made some mental mistakes but that was kind of expected to happen. This team we just played made it to the championship game last year and they beat us by 50 last year.
“To have a lead in the fourth quarter to lose by five points we’ve got some things to clean up but I’m really proud of the guys.”
Johanesson returned to the Buccaneers for the first time since winning a championship with the team in 2021. When he’s not playing he’s an assistant coach on H.J. Cody’s High School senior football team.
Playing on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball he’ll be busy this season but admitted his body feels fresh.
The ceiling for this team he said is a championship.
“I’m having so much fun with these guys,” he added. “Win or lose we’re going to come out and keep battling. There’s going to be some good football.”
The Buccaneers will be back in action next weekend at Setters Place in Red Deer when they host the Edmonton Elite.