Central Alberta Buccaneers wide receiver Axsavier Lawrence slips a tackle in the Black and Red intrasquad game on Saturday at MEGlobal Athletic Park. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Central Alberta Bucs still looking for roster depth at AFL season approaches

The Central Alberta Buccaneers know what it takes to win in the Alberta Football League.

Talent takes you a long way, but the battle in senior football that can separate the pretenders from the contenders is simply roster depth.

By the time the first football flies on May 25, the Bucs roster will be rounded out, but on Saturday at their annual Black and Red game, the optimism wasn’t necessarily flowing.

They were missing a few key pieces from the annual scrimmage and ran more of a controlled practice with a full line of offence and defence, in the hopes that they could master of a handful of key plays.

“They gotta get the numbers out and they gotta be committed to coming. I’ll coach whoever shows up, but as far as install, we’re not going to move forward unless we get the guys out,” said newly minted head coach Gary LaGrange.

“We added a couple of new wrinkles today, they went really well… We made some headway here today. Our scrimmage, it was nice to have it at that pace, it wasn’t just go-go. Stop, let’s reset, now where do we go. The lightbulb went on for a few of them, I was happy with that. There was progress, just a little slower than I anticipated.”

On defence, the Bucs have a steady grasp of how they are going to attack teams later on this month but offensively, there are still question marks. They are hoping for a few more players on the O-line and for the quarterback situation to really sort itself out. Two options at quarterback weren’t there Saturday.

That could mean Jarrett Burzak, who played a bit at pivot last year, could be the starting option.

“Burzak is pretty steady there, he’s just a little shorter. We’ll probably be running a lot of spread and he’ll be comfortable in the zone read because he can scoot and he’s smart,” added LaGrange.

Regardless of the question marks, the Bucs motivation is clear this season– beat Fort McMurray and win the league title.

“I was told they were the team to beat and these guys think they can beat them. I gotta believe them because I see some of the athletes there. It’s just one or two key players, that’ll make it go,” said LaGrange.

After a road game in Calgary on May 25, the Bucs play their first home game on June 1 at Great Chief Park. On June 8 they will host the Grande Prairie Drillers at MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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