SIOUX CITY – The Sioux City Bandits were ready for a bye week after playing nine straight weeks. Now they hope they don’t have another one for six more.
Of course, that would come after the Champions Indoor Football league championship game.
Sioux City is tied with Quad Cities at 6-3 as Salina sits atop the North Conference with a 7-2 mark with three games remaining in the regular season for the Bandits.
“It was a long grind but the break came at a perfect time for us to decompress a little bit,” Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen said. “We took a week off after getting a run in Monday and looking at the film. We are looking to go on another long run, and hopefully we don’t go home again for another six weeks. That is the goal.”
The Bandits (6-3) will begin their postseason push coming off their best game of the season and a new weapon in the backfield. Running back Daryl Virgies had a breakout first game with the Bandits, who pounded Kansas City 77-26 two weeks ago, as he ran for 97 yards on just six attempts with three touchdowns.
“He is a kid from Virginia University of Lynchburg who was a teammate with (Bandits defensive back) Antonio Brown that we have had our eye on,” Strohbeen said. “He was with the Giants in 2017 in minicamp before being cut and was in the CFL before being cut this year. He was the fastest guy on the field and the first time he touched the ball he ran for a 38 yards for a touchdown.
“He brought energy to the team, gave (running back) Darrien Miller a break, and he was down there on our kickoff coverage.”
The Bandits will look to stretch their current win streak to three games Saturday when they travel to face the Omaha Beef (4-6). This is the third meeting between the two teams with the Bandits winning the first game 33-30 before following it up with a 52-40 victory.
Strohbeen knows a rivalry game is always a test, but he is also aware that his team just needs to handle its business one week at a time.
“We will need a little help to get the No. 1 seed now, but it is just one week at a time and there are some quality teams in the league that are hitting their stride,” he said.
Strohbeen is not concerned about his team being overconfident coming off the big win and having a week off. He said the week off allowed some players to heal and he should have a full roster of players at his disposal.
“I think they all know what the goal is and why they are here,” he said. “We had a good practice (Monday) and they are all focused. I didn’t see any letdown and they were all preparing hard.”
Miller sits fifth in the league for the Bandits averaging 42.2 yards rushing per game and leads in rushing touchdowns with 16. Soloman St. Pierre continues to pace the league with six interceptions.
The Bandits won the last meeting with a defense that intercepted three passes and held the Beef to just 61 yards on the ground.
After Saturday the Bandits have just two games left in the regular season with a road game against Kansas City and home hosting Bismarck.