Bucks Pregame: Omaha

Posted 4/05/18 (Thu)

               The biggest difference in pro sports is that every team has pros on it. In the amateur ranks, you can have a huge gap between teams. But among the guys who are paid, everybody is near the top of their trade. Sure you get the rare situation where a team does an insane amount of losing, but usually the “worst” pro teams win around half their games.

               In Champions Indoor Football, the gap is even smaller. With such a wide player pool, from sage veterans to young up-and-comers, anything is possible. This is particularly true this year in the CIF North. Sioux City is the lone undefeated and consensus top team, but their average margin of victory is a little over a touchdown.

               After that, everyone has beaten everyone else. Literally. Get this: Quad Cities beat Kansas City, KC beat Omaha, the Beef topped Salina, the Liberty got one on Bismarck, and the Bucks won over QC. That’s the entire division (except Sioux City, for now) beating up on each other. It’s going to be an incredibly tight postseason race, and every game matters. With a race this tight, winning comes down to small things. So with that, let’s set the stage for a matchup of two playoff teams from last year: the Omaha Beef in Bismarck to take on the Bucks.

               Rivalries Renewed:

               The Bucks come in off a tough loss to the Sioux City Bandits. Even as the Bucks have improved from a personnel standpoint this year, they were left with an all too familiar feeling when playing the league’s top dog.

                However, it wasn’t all bad. One of the biggest questions this offseason was how to slow down the Bandit attack. Outside of one game last year, the Sioux City offense put up monster numbers against the first year Bucks. That was not the case in this game as Marquis Smith, LaKeith Murray, and the rest of the defensive front caused a bit of havoc for the Bandits. They forced turnovers, and made some bigtime plays.

               Unfortunately, the Bandits (as they often do) put themselves in a good spot. When they scored the first two TDs of the game, the Bucks were forced into a comeback game script from the word go. That made it more difficult to employ what has become a top five rushing attack, which in turn set up top five CIF passer Tyler Johnson. Still, Bismarck gave themselves a blueprint on how to tackle (literally) the Sioux City offense, and that’ll be hugely valuable against a team that does a whole lot very similar to the Bandits: the Omaha Beef

               Scouting the Competition: Grade A Beef

                This is a good Omaha team. After starting slow last year, that talent shone through as they upset Sioux City in the second round of the playoffs to advance all the way to the Champions Bowl. Omaha is one of the most consistent franchises in our league, along with Sioux City. Think of them as the Steelers and Patriots: a remarkable consistency amidst constant chaos that breeds success.

                Still, there’s definitely been some change for the Beef this year. Their former head coach (and former Baltimore Ravens RB) Corey Ross went closer to home and is now the head man for the Quad Cities. That opened the door for Omaha native Mike Bonner to take the helm. Still, the Beef have the same identity as before: Run. That. Ball.

                To that end, the Beef turn to the Mack Attack. Jeff Mack is an Omaha vet, and is a very capable runner. He also catches the ball from the RB spot with regularity. But he isn’t the primary threat out of the backfield. That honor falls to the QB for Omaha, just like last year.

               In the matchup against the Bucks in Bismarck last year, Anthony Iannotti was the starting QB and had the most carries for Omaha. Not passing attempts, but rushing. And even when he threw it, his point of attack is outside the pocket. Iannotti represents another in what has become a line of potent dual-threat QBs on the Bucks schedule.

               However, Iannotti is a game time decision against Bismarck due to an injury sustained a few weeks ago. Still, Omaha has a great backup plan. Not even a backup really, more a 1a to Iannotti’s QB1. After the retirement of one of the most experienced field generals last year, the Beef went out and got an incredible athlete to fill the “backup” QB role.

              John Gibbs is one of the best players from Alcorn State. They even have a Day named after him down in Houston. He’s switched on-and-off with Iannotti all year long, and has worked his way into the top five in the league in rushing. Again, not passing. So get ready for some mobility at the QB spot this Saturday night.

             When they do decide to throw the ball, Daniel McKinney is the clear cut number one. All-conference in two different leagues in college (because FAU moved), he’s a talented playmaker. Defensively, the Beef are led by Paul Dodson. Dodson has a pretty good pedigree of his own, with his college coach making the biggest defensive play in Super Bowl history.

             If you wanna know that story be sure to tune in Saturday night as the Bismarck Bucks host the Omaha Beef live on the BEK Broadcasting Network. Every game matters in the chase for a title, and this one is bigger than most. The action gets going at seven from the Bismarck Event Center!