After a brilliant regular season, a playoff win and then a close loss in the league final, the Central Alberta Buccaneers could be forgiven for taking a lengthy winter break.

Instead, members of the Alberta Football League franchise have been working on their skills at the Agri-Centre at Red Deer’s Westerner Park in preparation for 2017.

“Turnouts haven’t been great but it’s early yet,” said Mark Fay, a Buccaneer defensive back for the past five years. “In the past years we’ve had a lot of import players, so players from out of province so that contributes to it as well because all those guys are not necessarily in Alberta right now.”

The purpose of the workouts is getting players together, maybe attracting some new blood and then simple running around and throwing a ball, said Fay.

There is a practice plan, minus their gear which somewhat mirrors what the Bucs do when they get outdoors with a full complement.

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“We’ll do a warm up, we’ll have some individual time, we’ll do some one on ones and then we’ll do some sort of competition at the end where guys can have fun and still be competitive while working on their skills as well,” said Fay.

Ryan Miller, Bucs General Manager and a linebacker for the past two seasons says he’s not too concerned about the low numbers in February as players are away with work, families and other interruptions into their football life. He still feels there is some value to be gained with these workouts.

“Anytime you can get the guys together it’s just building that bond stronger, get everyone to trust each other more and like Mark said, to become a family.”

Now one might be a bit surprised about a senior men’s football league putting in the time during the winter to get better but Miller says that’s not surprising at all in his mind.

“We’re all still playing the game because we’ve grown up playing the game and we’re all competitive,” he said. “I mean if you have that competitive fire in you you’re going to do whatever to win and if that means putting some time aside for offseason workouts or hitting the gym, if guys really want it they have no problem doing it.”

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Miller says they can do position drills, simulating game situations and incorporating plenty of footwork drills which any player can benefit from.

“We can put the schemes in afterwards but as long as everyone knows their position and has an idea of what they have to do once the schemes come in it’s really easy to jump into.”

Last year was a remarkable season for the Bucs so getting back to that level will take some hard work.

Fay says while the atmosphere now is loose there is a comforting feeling that the Bucs will be one of the elite teams once again in 2017.

 “Second best isn’t good enough for us so we’ll be striving for another 8-0 season and hopefully we can close out this time.”

So the workouts can fill a gap and maybe satisfy that football hunger but the Bucs as a group can’t wait for the snow to melt and the real work to begin.

“It won’t really feel real until we get the pads out and start hitting. It will be nice once we get to that point, “ said Miller.

There is one more workout scheduled for February 26th at the Agri-Centre from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with spring camp opening at some point in April.