A brand new era begins on Saturday night for the Sioux City Bandits.
For the first time since playing a preseason exhibition game last March, the Bandits will take the field at Tyson Events Center, with a new owner, and a brand new logo.
What hasn’t changed for the team is its sky-high on-field expectations.
According to new Bandits’ owner J.R. Bond, a Missouri-based entrepreneur who purchased the team earlier this year from longtime owner Bob Scott, the Bandits will be one of the best teams in the Champions Indoor League this season.
“We’ve put all the pieces together,” Bond said. “We kept our coaching staff intact, and it looks like we are going to be the top of the league as far as on the field play goes this season.”
The Bandits will be one of six teams this season fighting for a CIF title, along with the Omaha Beef, the Salina Liberty, Wichita Force, Oklahoma Flying Aces, and the Wyoming Mustangs.
Coming into Saturday's game, the Bandits have 16 rookies and 19 players with previous professional football experience currently on the roster.
Defensive lineman Claude Davis, who was released by the New York Jets in 2013, joins the team, and is expected to be a key piece of the defense. Davis spent the past five years with the Sioux Falls Storm of the Indoor Football League, where he won four championships.
Davis, along with the rest of the defensive line, were spotlighted by Bond as players to watch this season. Along with Davis, Ben Pister, Devon Bridges, and Randall Blash make up the remainder of the line.
“Our entire defensive line has, at some point in the past few years, been defensive player of the year,” Bond said. “And our offense is having to go against our defense every single night at practice. If our offense can perform well against our defense, then there is nothing that is going to be wrong with our offense.”
At linebacker, head coach Erv Strohbeen has high expectations for Morningside alum Zac Schleuger, and at strong safety, former Iowa State Cyclone Reggan Northrup joins the squad.
“He can really play anywhere,” Strohbeen said of Northrup. “He played at Iowa State. He’s a ballhawk, and he is a hitter.”