The Red Deer Buccaneers had every intention of charging — not limping — out of the Alberta Football League starting gate.
So far, not so good.
The Bucs are 0-2 to open the 2009 AFL season after absorbing a 48-13 beating from the Edmonton Stallions Saturday evening at Great Chief park. The Red Deer squad surrendered just a field goal — a 40-yarder by Brad Matheson — in the first quarter, but then gave up three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter and never recovered.
“The mistakes we made last game we didn’t make today,” said Bucs head coach Dave Hanni, referring to a 28-11 loss to the visiting Lloydminster Vandals the previous Saturday. “We made a whole bunch of new ones.
“Really, there’s not much you can say after something like that. We had 60 players out for the game and 30 of them were at practice this week. That being said, we’ve have good practice turnouts over the last few years. We were short key guys today on both sides of the ball, but we can’t use that as an excuse.”
It simply boiled down to not making the right plays at the right time, the coach suggested.
“Guys just didn’t execute. They didn’t pick the right guy, the right read. We blew about five coverages,” said Hanni. “We were frustrated on the sidelines because we had the guys in the right positions and the right plays called. But for some reason they just blew it up. I think maybe we just got out-gunned.”
Stallions quarterback Travis Tyler threw two touchdown passes to Grant Shaw and also tossed touchdown strikes to Ray Nattress, Kelly McBryan and Orrin Bailey. Manny Gordon rushed for another major and Matheson booted field goals of 40 and 22 yards.
For the Bucs, Kenton Poelzer scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter and rookie Randy Lawrence hauled in a 26-yard scoring pass from Andrew Stannix with eight minutes remaining in the game.
Poelzer rushed for 88 yards on 14 carries, while Lawrence led all receivers with 48 yards gained. Stannix was nine-for-18 passing for 99 yards with one touchdown and one interception and was sacked twice, while teammate Greg Thompson completed four of 12 passes for 42 yards and threw one interception.
Meanwhile, Bucs rookie receiver Mike Harris gained 109 yards on four kickoff returns and Jamie Blinkhorn had 72 yards on two returns.
Defensively, cornerback Devon Mappin had three solo and five assisted tackles, plus a knockdown, linebacker Riley Quance had seven unassisted tackles and backs Jay Pike and Jivi Sudo each picked off one pass.
Hanni is convinced that the Buccaneers do not require big-time changes in field personnel.
“We’re maybe three guys away from doing some major damage,” he said. “We didn’t get any pressure on their offence today because we were missing two of our starting defensive linemen. If we get the proper guys there consistently doing what they’re supposed to do, we’re OK.
“We knew coming into the season that the first two games would be tough. We should have had last week’s game, but this week I don’t think we were even in the game at all. The Stallions are a pretty tough team. They were champions of the league two years ago and they’re always in the playoffs.”
The Buccaneers will host the Calgary Gators on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
Contact Greg Meachem at firstname.lastname@example.org