Last week’s 70-30 victory over Wichita was a building block for the Sioux City Bandits.
Needing a win, the Bandits put together their most complete game of the season and clicked on both sides of the ball.
The victory moved the Bandits out of the gutter of the Northern Division and two games behind Salina for the second playoff spot in the division.
Even though there’s still plenty of season left, the stakes are still high for the Bandits, who can’t fall three games behind Salina. So the Bandits need to play the same way they did last week against Wichita in order to stay in the playoff hunt.
Sioux City, which is 2-3, travels to Oklahoma, which is 0-5, on Saturday. The game kicks off at 7:05 p.m. and can be seen on PlutoTV.
“We use last week as a building block and improve on the things that we feel we can improve on and get better every week,” Bandits coach Erv Strohbeen said. “It’s a long trip to Oklahoma. We have to get another victory. I am looking at the future schedules and we need this team to lose, we need this team to lose and we need to win. We aren’t used to being in that position. It’s early but we need to win.”
It’s not like the Bandits were a trainwreck by any means during two of its losses to Salina and Amarillo. They only lost those two games by a combined three points and both losses came in the final 30 seconds of each game.
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But there were just enough mental mistakes and physical mistakes that cost the Bandits in those two contests. Last week the Bandits fixed a good number of those miscues and rolled to a 40-point victory.
“I think we definitely improved and got better in places,” Strohbeen said. “We eliminated some mental mistakes and a few physical ones that cost us those close games. It’s good to go into a travel game with a win like that and build on it. The guys are figuring things out the more they are in the system. This system has worked the last eight years. They are buying in and just continue to build every week.”
Offensively, the Bandits got a good game out of quarterback Dillon Turner, who threw for five touchdowns and ran for another. Turner was named the CIF Offensive player of the week.
Daryl Virgies had another good game on the ground. He is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with 12 and is third with 64.0 rushing yards per game.
Virgies also contributed to the kickoff team as the Bandits scored a couple of points that way. Virgies played a key role on that team and because of the depth Sioux City has at running back, Strohbeen can play him there. He also had backup running back Braden Meints play defensive back last week because Strohbeen thinks Todd Macon can take some key carries at running back if needs him to.
“Typically you travel two running backs and they are forcing me to take three,” Strohbeen said. “I told Daryl we need him on kickoff and to be able to go on special teams. Braden going on the other side of the ball has helped. It’s really a selfless group and that’s nice to see.”
Sioux City’s defense has been able to get pressure on the quarterback and cause some turnovers this season. Last week the Bandits had two pick six’s and Ben Pister had three sacks. Pister leads the league with seven sacks and the Bandits have nine as a team. Sioux City also has eight interceptions.
“I definitely feel like the defense had a great game the other night. It’s a progression every week,” Strohbeen said. “Been has been all over every team and we’ve been able to count on him and Devon Bridges. We have a lot of guys starting to figure it out with how they are going to contribute.”