Stars shut down Buccaneers

The next time the Central Alberta Buccaneers have to play the St. Albert Stars it will be too soon.

Stars 14, Buccaneers 0

The next time the Central Alberta Buccaneers have to play the St. Albert Stars it will be too soon.

The last two meetings have not gone so well.

The Stars ended the Bucs season in last year’s Alberta Football League semifinal and then this Saturday beat again them 14-0 in St. Albert.

After three full weeks off, Central Alberta just could not get anything going.

The loss dropped the Buccaneers to the sixth and final playoff spot at 3-4 on the season. They will travel to Grande Prairie to play the Drillers (5-2) who beat the Bucs 31-18 in their one meeting this season.

“Certain teams just match up well against certain teams and I think they just match what we do really well,” said Buccaneers head coach Duane Brown. “Their strengths match a couple of our weaker points and it plays very nicely into what they do.”

It was a frustrating loss for the Buccaneers who shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion. They suffered from a lack of focus and showed on the field in mental errors as players tripped over yard lines and receivers took plays off with the ball going to where they should have been.

They were inexcusable mistakes for the final game of the regular season with playoff positioning on the line. Had they won, they would have still been on the road to Fort McMurray, though they only lost 14-9 to the Monarchs in their previous game.

“We’ve had a lot of time where we could have been repping or prepping all of these things, but for a variety of reasons some stuff didn’t happen,” said Brown. “We weren’t as prepared as we should have been for this game.”

The offence was not helped by the fact starting quarterback Cole Stewart suffered a throat injury in the first quarter and was replaced by veteran quarterback Josh Achtemichuk, who spent the last few games playing defensive end. Achtemichuk did manage to move the ball but could not get into scoring position. Stewart did get back in for the final couple of series.

The defence however, did play strong. They gave up only two big plays, one that resulted in the game’s only touchdown — a long passing play to Tyler Wilson early in the fourth quarter, the convert was missed — and held the Stars to two field goals. The Buccaneers also surrendered one safety after getting backed up in their own end on offence.

At the backbone of that effort was the play of defensive backs Tylor Johnson and Jamie Blinkhorn, both who made a few big plays, including a 50-yard interception return by Johnson.

Brown also likes how his team played to the end, though they were down, they kept fighting.

After the game several veterans stood up in the dressing room and addressed the team, holding each other accountable..

“Nobody gave up on it,” said Brown. “We have to take a positive out of how the team reacted afterwards, the veterans taking leadership and taking ownership and coming after things.”

The Stars (3-4) placed fifth and will travel to Fort McMurray to play the expansion Monarchs (4-3).

But Brown likes the match up with the Drillers after hanging tight with Grande Prairie until the end in their previous meeting in the second week of the season on Aug. 16.

“We know that we can beat them, it’s a situation where we make the one big trip then we come back and play a few more games closer to home,” said Brown. “The big thing for us is just consistency. We have to work hard, do our best in practice and get consistent.”