Corey's Corner 3/9

Posted 3/09/17 (Thu)

               There’s always a transition for a play-by-play broadcaster when a new sport starts. After doing a ton of basketball and hockey on BEK, we headed over to the gridiron for some Champions Indoor Football. New sport, new team. The Bismarck Bucks took the field for the very first time in franchise history against the Sioux City Bandits, and we brought it to you statewide back in North Dakota. But the schedule did the new guys on the block no favors, going against one of the most stable and skilled organizations in all of indoor football. This is a team that not only showcases league leading rushers with regularity, but managed to put one of those running backs into the NFL. He would go on to lead the NFL in all-purpose yards in ’09. And over half a decade later, the Bandits still run the ball with the best. They opened the game with a 5 play, 35 yard touchdown drive.

               Meanwhile, Bismarck would have to work out some of those first game jitters. The opening drive started slower than the Bucks coaches would like, though the first big play in team history would come on their first 4th down conversion attempt as RB Jawan Jamison took a quick screen for 25 yards. That would be the trend of opening day for Bismarck: big plays by the 7th round NFL Draft pick out of Rutgers. The opening drive would come up short though, and Sioux City went back on offense.

               The Bucks came into this game with one major defensive goal: stop the three-headed monster of the Bandits in the backfield. Sioux City might have the most depth at running back of anyone in the league, and Bismarck knew in order to win they had to take the ball out of their hands. And they did. For the majority of this game, the traditional backs for the Bandits averaged less than 2 yards per carry. That’s a testament to the talent this Bucks team has along the defensive front, and that will shine even more as the season goes on. However, Sioux City had another option.

               Frederick Bruno has played in a Bandits uniform for longer than most guys play any level of football. After leaving Wayne State as one of the best WR in that programs’ history, he joined Sioux City in 2011. And he’s a perfect fit for what they do. He’s sure handed, of course, but that’s not his biggest asset in the run heavy Bandits attack. His ability in the end around/sweep game ranks amongst the top at this level of ball.  He’s outstanding at it in part because of his natural ability, and in part because he has done it so many times these past 7 seasons. And those reps will come for this talented Bucks team, but they aren’t there yet. Bruno would put home the second Bandits touchdown of the day in their second drive from 11 yards out, putting up 24 of SC’s 26 yards on the possession. He would score again with 8:20 to go in the second, again with some outstanding work in the same setup. Sioux City was up 21-0, and that put them in a position to dictate the tenor of the ballgame.

               Nevertheless, Bismarck didn’t quit. They would put up the first Bucks touchdown ever, and it would come from Jamison. A two-play, 19 yard drive that was all Jawan lit up the road portion of the scoreboard. Then nearing the half, Bucks QB Jonathan Bane found the former UMary Marauder Elby Pope on a 26-yard score. But from 26 yards away, the Bucks left 26 seconds left on the clock. Bruno got TD number four in the first half, and the Bucks trailed 35-13. Essentially, the difference was that early run by Sioux City. That forced Bismarck into comeback mode the rest of the game.

               Despite that, Bismarck started to settle in during the second half. Jawan Jamison brought the thunder and the lightning, finishing the ballgame as the first 100 yard rusher for the Bucks. He averaged nearly 10 yards per carry, running around and through defenders in the process. Jon Bane settled in, throwing for nearly 200 yards en route to a 3 TD performance on the ballgame. The early deficit dictated the action on the scoreboard, but Bismarck got to showcase the talent they’ve assembled on the roster and they got that incredibly valuable first game rep in the books. That puts the Bucks on the path to cleaning up some of those early game tough times, as well as the difficult day in the penalty department. Once those procedural issues come off the board, this team may very well shine.

               They’ll get that opportunity this weekend as they take on another new team in the Champions Indoor Football League: the Ironmen of West Michigan. We’ll be LIVE in Muskegon starting at 6 o’clock back home in the Peace Garden State. We’ll talk to you then.