OMAHA – Erv Strohbeen was pleased his Sioux City Bandits picked up a season-opening victory last Sunday. Like every coach, he knows improvements must be made if that is to continue.
“Obviously nice to get a win to open the season, a win against a division opponent,” he said. “Those are all great things but definitely saw a lot of things on film and during the game that we need to work on. We just have to get back to the basics and clean some things up.”
The Bandits earned a 45-35 victory over the Quad Cities Steamwheelers at the Tyson Events Center behind a strong showing for new Sioux City quarterback Liam Nadler. Nadler was impressive directing the Bandits, connecting on 15 of 18 passes. He threw for 155 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I was happy with how he played and commanded the game, commanded the huddle and his poise,” Strohbeen said. “Fifteen of 18 passing I don’t know that he expected to be that good as far as stats wise in his first start.”
His first road game will come against longtime Sioux City rival Omaha on Saturday.
“Throw the records out because this is a great rivalry in indoor football, this is the Iowa-Iowa State game, those types of rivalries,” Strohbeen said. “I told the guys that were here three years ago when we won the championship it didn’t matter Omaha beat us and that was their only victory during the year. They do not lay down for you.”
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The Bandits (1-0) went 3-1 against Omaha last season but saw the Beef end their season in the postseason, 55-45 at the Tyson Events Center.
Omaha is 1-1 on the season picking up a 42-37 win over Salina and dropping a 62-61 decision to Kansas City. The Beef bring a familiar quarterback into the game in Anthony Iannotti, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the close loss to the Phantoms.
“He is definitely a ball player,” Strohbeen said. “You look back to last year and we figured out how to contain him at the end of the season, but he is a shifty guy who can run the ball and he can hurt you through the air. Our guys have to do the responsibilities that we are preaching.”
Strohbeen said he doesn’t see many weaknesses on an Omaha team that includes former Bandit running back Jeffrey Mack.
Strohbeen would like to see his team run the ball better than the 15 yards on 22 attempts it had last week, but noted Quad Cities loaded up the box to make Nadler beat the Steamwheelers with his arm.
The Bandits will be without reigning CIF Defensive Player of the Year Devon Bridges who is dealing with an injury. The defense got after it in its opener as it collected four sacks and a pair of interceptions. It is the same kind of effort the Bandits will look for this week.
The Bandits are the lone undefeated team in the North Conference with every other team except Quad Cities having played at least twice already. A victory Saturday would give Sioux City two conference wins with another road trip to Bismarck, North Dakota coming next week.