Bandits playing for top seed against Bismarck

Bandits playing for top seed against Bismarck


SIOUX CITY -- It is not nine straight wins, but there is no denying that it feels like something very similar is in the process of happening.

In 2015, the Sioux City Bandits began their season 2-3 before not losing again over the course of their next nine games to claim the Champions Indoor Football Championship.

This season the Bandits began 4-0 before suffering three straight losses, but have now reeled off four straight wins. However, it is not just that they are winning, it is how they are winning. Explosive offense and dominant defense has suddenly turned a Sioux City team that was struggling to find its identity at midseason into a juggernaut with the regular-season finale approaching Saturday at the Tyson Events Center against Bismarck.

"Guys are starting to trust the system, a system that has already proven to work," Bandits defensive coordinator Marlon Lobban said. "Just trust and working to put the guys in the best position possible and getting back to having fun."

Lobban was part of the 2015 championship team and he sees one big similarity between the squads.

"The commradorie," he said. "They pick each other up, they hang out, they work out together. They do the things that teams are supposed to do that is going to count in the long run."

Despite all the strong results of late the Bandits are still playing for plenty in the final week with the top seed in the North Conference still up for grabs. Both Sioux City and Salina have 8-3 records, but Salina owns the head-to-head victory over the Bandits.

"We are in a tie with Salina and they would obviously have the head-to-head tiebreaker so we would need them to lose and us to win to gain the No. 1 seed," Strohbeen said. "Otherwise we are going to be No. 2 going forward."

The Bandits have scored 77, 77 and 78 points in their past three games and won the first meeting with Bismarck 43-27.

"Bismarck has become a rival in a short amount of time," Lobban said. "Their film looks different from the first time we played them, but so does ours. I believe our guys are ready to play.

"We are confident but we also understand we can get beat in any given game. We want our guys to play confident ... but we respect everyone we play."

Bandits quarterback Liam Nadler has thrown for 1,423 yards, 32 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Running back Darrian Miller leads the CIF with 22 rushing touchdowns and has run for 515 yards. Daryl Virgies is averaging 8.5 yards per carry since joining the team three games ago.

The Bandit defense is giving up just 41.1 points per game and has the second-leading tackler in the league in Isaac Wright and the interception leader in Soloman St. Pierre.

"The line has played extremely well," Lobban said. "Westly Johnson has played extremely well his second year, Ben Pister is always is going to be a dominant factor, Devin Groenhagen rotating in and out with Marcus Miles.

"On the back end C.J. Jones is starting to play some great football the last three, four games. Soloman is our biggest risk taker and you live with him and you live with him."

Duke City enters the final week with the best record in the league at 9-2 while Amarillo is 8-3, both members of the South Conference.


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