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Central Alberta Buccaneers complete 20-year milestone season

By Sheldon Spackman - Aug 8, 2022 | 3:30 PM

The 2022 season has come to an end for the Central Alberta Buccaneers senior men’s football team.

After posting a 1-5 record during the regular season while finishing tied for sixth in the seven-team league, the Bucs were defeated in the Alberta Football League (AFL) quarter finals, losing 53-0 to the Irish in Airdrie Aug. 6.

Mike Wilkinson, Chairman of the Central Alberta Buccaneers, admits it was emotionally the right time to wrap up the season.

“We had the combination of a lack of experience and a lot of new faces on the team this year, so we did have to come together,” he points out. “And as a result of that, we did suffer lots of injuries throughout the season but it was very good seeing those players who were healthy and able to play on Saturday, play right to the end of the game.”

Wilkinson says the Bucs started with nine returning players this year from the previous championship season in 2021.

“With that, I think four or five of those nine were returners who had been with the team for up to four or five years, and the rest were guys that were kind of new to the club last season,” he explains. “Then with the other close to 30 new faces, we all had to get to know each other, get to practicing with each other, understand timings and routing, working together in practice and getting numbers out there, and then having to changes positions, or anything needed to be done to play the game after some key injuries, took place throughout the season.”

Despite those challenges, however, Wilkinson says he’s very proud of the effort everyone gave.

“We had players that committed from Edmonton and Calgary and they’d come down for practices as often as they could with crazy gas prices or injuries or whatever was going on there,” says Wilkinson. “But we probably had 25 guys just from Sylvan Lake, Stettler, Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer, coming out to practice every Tuesday, Thursday and really coming together, and they developed what is this year’s heart of the team.”

2022 also marked a 20-year milestone for the Buccaneers, after first being established in 2002.

“We’ve always been a player operated, player coached organization,” he remarks. “We’ve got a good core group of payers here, and I’d love to see these young athletes that have been with us, who are still eligible to play at the junior or college level, maybe take some of the film from this season and kind of get themselves out there and send it to coaches at those levels. Maybe get themselves some more experience and higher level of play, but of course we’d also love to see them back as Buccaneers, whether it’s next season or in four seasons down the road.”

Having said that, Wilkinson says the Bucs would also like to retain a good number of the players from this past season.

“I hope to see a lot of familiar faces back with the Buccaneers next year, but I also want to keep some good player retention out of this core group from this season,” adds Wilkinson.

“I’d say my favourite memory of this whole season was just our first practice of the entire year,” shares Wilkinson. “We had been recruiting players and didn’t really know who was going to show up and that was that freak snowstorm back at the end of April there and we still had 25 fresh faces coming out to play in the snow. But everyone was out there having fun, diving in the snow, just playing around and having a good time, so it’s good to see that that energy just stayed with the team that whole season.”

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