SIOUX CITY – The losing streak has been stopped, now it is time to build on it.
The Sioux City Bandits snapped a three-game losing streak by downing Omaha 52-40 last Saturday at the Tyson Events Center. The victory keeps the Bandits firmly in the hunt for the top spot in the North Conference, but head coach Erv Strohbeen knows there is still work to be done.
“It was a huge game, a rivalry game and we played well but we still made too many mistakes,” Strohbeen said. “I like the fact we had a kickoff return for a touchdown and won the turnover battle and had fewer penalties.”
The Bandits went into the game after a week of practice that focused not on worrying about mistakes but trying to have fun with the game.
“We had been playing tight because guys were thinking coach is really on me or coach is watching me, and they were a little looser and had some more fun playing this game,” Strohbeen said. “The O-line played great moving guys and pushing them around which allowed us to do some things.”
Sioux City will look to continue moving forward as it welcomes Kansas City to the Tyson on Saturday. The Bandits won the first meeting between the two teams as Sioux City scored two touchdowns in the final 1:55 to break a 55-all tie for the 69-55 victory.
“They played us tough and they have a great quarterback, a former MVP,” Strohbeen said. “They like to throw the ball all over and it was a shootout last time.”
Both quarterbacks had strong days as Donovan Portier went 20 of 33 for 196 yards and six touchdowns but also had two interceptions for Kansas City. The Bandits' Liam Nadler threw for 201 yards, three TDs and no picks.
Sioux City's defense came up big with three interceptions last week, including two in the Beef's final three drives. Soloman St. Pierre and Cory Butler-Byrd had the two fourth quarter picks and St. Pierre had two interceptions in the game. St. Pierre leads the CIF with six interceptions on the season.
“We are lucky to have (St. Pierre) because he is a great DB and I am sure he's among the leaders in pass breakups,” Strohbeen said. “Most rookies it takes a while to learn the ins and outs of the indoor game. Coach (Marlon) Lobban and Coach (John Zevenbergen) call him their best biggest risk taker because he is not afraid to go for the interception.”
Kansas City lost a 16-point halftime lead to Salina last week to fall 78-71. The win put the Liberty in first place in the North Conference while the Phantoms fell to 2-6 as they had a missed field goal, had a turnover on downs and an interception end their fourth-quarter drives.
Portier leads the league in passing yards per game at 216.9 and passing touchdowns with 41. The Bandits counter with running back Darrian Miller who is tied for the league lead with 13 rushing touchdowns.
With this being the second meeting of the season between the two teams, Strohbeen knows he is going to see some different things out of the Phantoms.
“They will throw different defenses at our offense … and it will be a chess match with blocking schemes,” he said. “We just have to go play our game and if they stop us a couple of times we just have to stick to the game plan and make some adjustments.”