Bismarck Bucks at Sioux City Bandits football

Sioux City's Westly Johnson tackles Bismarck's Tyler Floyd during Bandits football action at the Tyson Events Center last Saturday.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | Seven.

That’s how many consecutive victories the Sioux City Bandits have over Omaha as the two teams prepare to square off for the North Division title at the Tyson Events Center at 7 p.m. Saturday. That includes all three meetings between the two this season, however, it has never been easy for the Bandits when going up against the Beef.

“I liken it to the fact that we have several veterans on our team,” said Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen of the recent success. “Most of the team is comprised of veterans, guys that have been there before. They have won championships with the Sioux City Bandits and seen the way.

“We have lost games (to Omaha) in the last seconds and the things that have cost us and I think they have learned from all of those mistakes and different scenarios that have taken place.”

Even with the recent string of success, Strohbeen can recall Omaha’s last win over the Bandits (10-3) in 2015 on a touchdown pass with no time left on the clock.

“It was a fade pass with no time on the clock so that is how we have learned from all of those experiences,” he said.

All three games with the Beef (8-5) this season have been very competitive. Sioux City won the season opener 63-44, a Dominique Carson 4-yard touchdown run gave the Bandits a 63-56 overtime victory in the first meeting in Omaha, and Taylor Genuser's 1-yard run with 36 seconds left broke a tie and gave Sioux City the regular-season sweep 61-55.

The game matches up the two best rushing teams in the Champions Indoor Football league with the Bandits leading the way at 126.5 yards a game while the Beef check in at 104.2. The Bandits use a deep backfield to rack up their yardage while Omaha quarterback Anthony Iannotti is a dual-threat who has drawn plenty of attention from Sioux City.

“Nobody else really runs the ball on Omaha and we are going to attempt to, we are going to have to,” Strohbeen said. “You look at the last six years I think we have led the league in scoring darn near every year … we are No. 2 in the league right now to Amarillo. We are putting up 60 points and we have a great rushing attack. You just have to know how to do it.

“We did a pretty good job against (Iannotti) last time out, he only averaged two yards a rush or something like that. We did a good job of containing him, but we definitely don’t want to see him beat us with both his arm and his legs. We have to push him into a one-dimensional aspect there.”

Sioux City had four running backs with more than 250 yards on the season with Dominique Carson leading the way with 564 yards, followed Frederick Bruno (438, Jeff Mack (352) and Drew Prohaska (268).

The Bandits are now the team with the championships – they are aiming for their fourth in a seven-year span this season – and it is a role they have embraced.

“Every week we are getting the team’s best shot because they want to be the one to knock off the Sioux City Bandits,” Strohbeen said.

Sioux City is coming off a dominating 82-43 victory over Bismarck at the Tyson to open up postseason play last Saturday. It was perhaps the team’s most complete effort of the season.

“It was a very complete game,” Strohbeen said. “Defense forced turnovers, they got after the quarterback, we had multiple sacks, a couple of intentional grounding calls. The offense followed suit with a great rushing attack and Taylor (Genuser) was very efficient.”

Strohbeen is hoping for bigger crowd support after just 1,753 fans showed up against Bismarck as summer is now in full swing.

“There is a lot of stuff going on in Sioux City now so there is a lot of opportunities for our fans to do other things so our crowd wasn’t as good as our regular-season crowd,” he said. “We would love to have as many people out there as possible to support us.”

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