SIOUX CITY – Being a perennial playoff team has turned the Sioux City Bandits into a destination spot for many indoor football players in the Champions Indoor Football league.
The ability to draw talent to the Tyson Event Center has been on display through three games this season as the team entered the campaign with a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. The results have shown that that has mattered little.
“Our coaches, we are players’ coaches , and they like the fact that we are honest guys with them and we let them know where they are at and we expect greatness out of them,” Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen said. “When they come to Sioux City and see our fan support and game-day atmosphere that impresses them.
“We are pretty methodical in the way we prepare and the things we do, and they like the structure we give them.”
The Bandits are off to a 3-0 start this season having gone on the road and beaten Bismarck last Friday.
“Whoever won that game was going to be in sole possession of first place, up a game on the rest of them,” Strohbeen said. “Luckily it was us and now we have a one-game lead on each division opponent. If you look at head-to-head series, we are leading those too.”
Strohbeen likes the makeup of his team early in the season.
“We have a lot of guys buying into what we are doing,” he said. “Everybody is embracing that Bandits’ culture and we don’t have any selfish players on this team.”
Liam Nadler ranks third in the CIF in passing yards per game at 129.3 and is tied for fourth in touchdowns with seven. Running back Darrian Miller is coming off his best game rushing the ball with 58 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-27 victory over Bismarck.
“Finally started running the ball a little better and that has been a focus of ours,” Strohbeen said. “We definitely felt that running helped our passing game and if we are able to be successful there we can open up a little bit.”
It is a trend he hopes continues Saturday when the Bandits host Kansas City, another conference foe.
Kansas City quarterback Donovan Portiere has accounted for 10 touchdowns this season and threw for 157 yards in his team's loss to Quad Cities last week. The Phantoms were held to negative-9 yards rushing in the game.
Kansas City fell to Quad Cities 62-34 and it also lost to Bismarck 67-30 while beating Omaha 62-61.
However, Strohbeen knows the Phantoms will not simply roll over for the Bandits, and he is looking for his team to cut down on the mental mistakes that have consistently been an issue.
The Bandit defense continues to play at a high level giving up just 92 points through three games. Sioux City paces the league in yards given up through the air at just 111.3 per contest. The defense forced four turnovers against Bismarck, continuing to generate opportunities for the offense.
“(The defense) has got guys that know what they are doing and the coaches impress upon them the little details of playing defense,” Strohbeen said.
The two teams split a pair of meetings last season with Sioux City winning at the Tyson Events Center 62-35 and the Phantoms getting the 75-70 on their home field.
The Bandits enter the game with players dealing with bumps and bruises and will be without Devon Bridges and wide receiver T.J. Oates.