The road to the Alberta Football League Final goes through Great Chief Park in Red Deer,
The Central Alberta Buccaneers locked up a home playoff game with a 44-16 win over the Cold Lake Fighter Jets this past Saturday.
Adam Kuntz lead a hungry defensive core with four sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss, and one forced fumble, while Brandon Leyh was stellar under centre again, adding five touchdown passes to his already impressive totals. He now has 18 TDs over three games.
The win ensures the Bucs will finish in the top two teams in the league and will host an AFL Semifinal game on Aug. 21.
“The defence came out understanding their jobs and assignments. We had some problems in the first few weeks getting guys on the same page. We’re all comfortable with each other now, and the front seven really did their job. I had a good game but that was because the front seven were where they needed to be and understood their assignments,” Kuntz said.
Coming into the game there had been questions surrounding the Bucs ability to defend the run. The assertions were put to rest early when the run heavy Fighter Jet offence was forced to rely on their passing attack.
“We watched film. Myself Included, I don’t think we watched enough on other teams prior. We also played with physicality and an understanding of what we had to do up front. We found earlier we were out of place with assignments, but now with the front seven being gap sound, we’re doing our job as a unit,” Kuntz said.
With the defence firing on all cylinders, Leyh found Tylor Johannesson, Ben Hnatiuk and Axsivier Lawrence with first half touchdown passes. Cold Lake found the endzone once and added a field goal and the Bucs took a 21-10 lead into halftime.
The second half followed a similar script. Leyh found both Hnatiuk and Lawrence for their second touchdown receptions of the night, and the defence gave up one touchdown through the air but adjusted and were not scored on again. Late in the fourth quarter, Mark Fay picked up his second interception of the season.
Now the Bucs turn their attention to a heavyweight tilt against the Edmonton Elite at Taurus Field in Fort Saskatchewan on Saturday. Because both teams hold 3-0 records, the first seed in the AFL and home field advantage throughout the playoffs are one the line. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
“Guys travel from all over so it’s good to lock it in and know where you’re going to be playing, and you’re in your comfort zone at home. Any time you can get a team travelling, it just makes their day a little longer, a little harder, and there are less people out supporting them. It’s super important to lock that up next week against the Elite. They’re a good team, they’re 3-0 too, we’ll see where the chips fall,” Kuntz said. “I don’t think we’re number two, though.”