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Bismarck Bucks at Bandits football

Sioux City Bandits' Frederick Bruno is one of several familiar faces fans will see for both teams during Saturday's game.

SIOUX CITY -- It is a football game between two successful organizations so the desire to win is there, but for both the Sioux City Bandits and Sioux City Stampede there are bigger goals to accomplish.

The two football teams will meet Saturday inside the Tyson Events Center for a preseason game. The Bandits, three-time champions in indoor football, will host the semi-pro and defending outdoor champion Stampede.

"The last couple of years the preseason game has done nothing for the Bandits in terms of competition or given their guys a real good look so they can make their final roster cuts," Stampede head coach Jason Garnand said. "Last year (Bandits managing partner Bob Scott) said, why don't you guys come play and we can give Sioux City a good look at our outdoor team and indoor team. It was a no-brainer."

The Bandits don't begin their regular season until March 18 at home against the Quad City Steamwheelers, but it is an important game nonetheless.

"I will bring 35 guys into that Saturday night game and they are signed to camp contracts and it will be a good measuring stick to see who will go on my final 25-man roster," Bandits head coach Erv Strohbeen said. "Will make some cuts on Sunday morning. We have a lot of work to do this week to prepare for that game -- we just reported Friday night -- and then cut some guys and start putting depth charts out."

Fans will see more than a few familiar faces on the field for the Bandits on Saturday.

The defensive line brings back a lot of talent, including Morningside grad Devin Groenhagen, Devon Bridges, Ben Pister and Westly Johnson.

"Those are four vets and our most veteran crew of guys," Strohbeen said. "Those guys have won defensive player of the year awards in this league in Ben Pister and Bridges. So I think that is going be what we are looking at."

There will be a new face at quarterback with Liam Nadler, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound signal-caller who played with the Colorado Crush of the Indoor Football League last season.

"He was in a minicamp with the (New York) Jets," Strohbeen said. "He throws a great ball. Big pro-style quarterback."

The offense returns Frederick Bruno as a spark plug for another season and is a key in the return game.

The two teams have had a good relationship with players going both ways to play for the other team at times.

"There is a lot of overlap and I think it exposes both teams to gaining a few new fans," Strohbeen said.

While the Stampede, who open their new season May 5, are new to the indoor game, just playing the game is a win for the team.

"Just having the opportunity to be exposed in front of a larger fanbase," Garnand said. "We are going into our fifth season but we are still not well known 100 percent in Siouxland. We can show we have a great image, we have great football players and it is an event people can get accustomed to because it is really good outdoor football."

The Stampede, who will play in the Northern Elite Football League in 2018, were crowned the 2017 Midwest Football Alliance Champions. They have won 18 of their last 19 games and are an impressive 33-8 since inception in 2014.

The Stampede have about 85 percent of their roster set for the upcoming season. They have been practicing since December and have brought in some familiar coaches. Former Bandits quarterback Scott Jansen and linebacker Spetlar Tonga have been working with the offense and defense, respectively.

"They have a good coach staff and are smart football guys," Strohbeen said. "They know football enough to know what they have to do to adjust to come indoors.

"Are they going to be perfect? Absolutely not. We are not going to be perfect either."

The winner of the game will receive a trophy.


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