When Buck Pierce, 31, was traded to the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League from Winnipeg in early September, many fans around the league suspected that the Del Norte High graduate would never again play meaningful time in the CFL.
Winnipeg Sun columnist Paul Friesen predicted that Pierce's role would become that of, "a sounding board, a coach in pads," in a column shortly after the trade.
Pierce never bought into that idea, telling the media, "I've got some good snaps left in me."
Last Friday night, Pierce got a chance to display all that he still has to offer against the Edmonton Eskimos, and he proved his earlier words prophetic.
Pierce, a Blue Bomber through the first nine weeks of the season, has been back where his CFL career began in 2005 with the BC Lions in Vancouver, for about seven weeks.
"It has been a different year for me, getting traded at the halfway point of the year," Pierce told the Triplicate this week. "I went into a situation that I am pretty familiar with. It is a locker room that I still knew a lot of guys in. It was a good change for me."
Still, after four years of playing for Winnipeg, Pierce had to relearn the BC offense.
"I am still kind of learning the offense and just trying to fit in," Pierce said. "I just want to do what I can to help us win."
Shortly after Pierce's arrival, BC starting quarterback Travis Lulay suffered a shoulder injury.
Pierce initially saw limited action, appearing in just three of six games as a backup behind Thomas DeMarco. Pierce was 6-of-13 for 48 yards during that span.
Last Friday, however, Pierce was given a chance to cut loose.
Caught in the midst of a three-game losing streak and off to a bad start against Edmonton, BC head coach Mike Benevides decided to put Pierce in.
The former Warrior entered the game at the end of the first quarter with his team trailing 10-1 and engineered a complete turnaround. Piercecompleted 11-of-14 passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, leading the Lions to a 43-29 victory.
Pierce also carried the ball three times for 18 yards and a touchdown and threw a key block to free up running back Stefan Logan on a 54-yard rushing touchdown.
"It was good. I went out there and just had fun again," Pierce said. "I was able to play my style of ball and just enjoyed myself and made the most of my opportunities."
Pierce played well enough that Benevides named him the starting quarterback for the Lions' final regular season game Friday against Calgary. It will be Pierce's first start since July 19, when he started for Winnipeg against Toronto.
"I saw a tremendous amount of confidence in his demeanor last week," Benevides told the Vancouver Sun on Monday. "He also has a larger grasp of our offense. He's earned the start. It's his time. For me, the only thing I'm concerned about now is winning. And, to me, the guy that can help us do that is Buck."
Lulay has started practicing again, and the Lions are hopeful that he will be able to be the team's No. 2 quarterback against Calgary. He is hoping to be back as the starter for the playoffs when BC goes on the road against Saskatchewan.
No matter who the starter is, Pierce wants to do all he can to help make a deep playoff run.
"We are at a point in the season right now that we have to get everybody ready to go," Pierce said. "I think we have depth at the quarterback position right now, which is a huge luxury going into a big playoff push. The reason they brought me here was to help. Wether that is to help on the sidelines calling plays or on the field taking snaps, either way is positive for me at this point in my career."
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org.