SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Coming off a season where finishing games was a struggle and injuries made its rounds through the roster, a return to the Bandits’ championship brand of football wouldn’t be easy. But with aggressive offseason moves, plus experience returning to the turf the Bandits have fully bounced back.
“Offense, defense, and special teams is really playing together,” Said Bandits head coach Erv Strohbeen. “Where I think you compare it to last year we had a few hiccups here and there. It wasn’t one side of the ball or the other that was to blame, there weren’t complete team wins in that season last year.”
Yet, winning has been the theme in 2022. Averaging over 48 points per game with top spots in eight offensive categories, scoring for Sioux City has been anything but a problem. Mix in a top three defense and a league-best six sacks from Dajon Emory, and it’s a recipe that’s hard for opponents to crack, creating the cohesion the Bandits have been searching for.
“I think we’re all just a family on defense,” said Emory. “My success don’t come without those guys. I feel like it’s not just me, it’s eight of us out there.”
“I feel like the guys we have this year I feel like we’re really a team,” added Bandits running back Kamal Cass. “We’re bought in to whatever the coaches are telling us this year. Everybody kind of clicks with each other and since we get along off the field, that definitely helps us on the field.”
And that chemistry has churned out success, resulting in a No. 1 seed and a first round bye in the playoffs. But after putting up 77 points and seven forced turnovers in the season finale where really nothing was at stake, it looks like the Bandits are saving their best ball for last.
“I challenged the guys like hey doesn’t matter what’s at stake today,” said Strohbeen. “Essentially that was a ball game where we really couldn’t improve our stock but we did. We rolled into the playoffs gaining a lot of confidence on all three phases of the game.”
“We really just wanted to set a tone for ourselves,” said Cass. “It wasn’t really about Rapid City at that moment it was just kind of building off something and going into the playoffs.”
With the postseason set to begin Saturday, the Bandits haven’t forgotten what’s taken them to this point, but are keeping the focus internal, so that their biggest opponent doesn’t end up being themselves.
“Right now we’re just saying we’re 0-0,” said Emory. “9-1 record don’t matter, we just got 2 more games. We just got to finish the season 2-0 to beat our end goal.”
“If we focus on ourselves and do what we have to do there,” said Cass. “Nothing is getting between us and getting a championship.”