Bandits Bring 2019 to a Close with Team Awards

“This is obviously not how we wanted the season to end,” began Head Coach Erv Strohbeen at the End-of-Season Team Awards Dinner on June 26.

A gentle understatement. Every year is a hunt for a Championship ring and anything short of that is disappointing for everyone.

Saying good-bye to your team is never easy regardless of when the season ends. Most of these fine young men sat in the same chairs just three months ago to kick off the 2019 season, sitting next to strangers – to rivals – and wondering if they’d make the cut. Many of them didn’t know anyone else on the team and only had online contact with the coaching staff. They took a leap of faith in moving to Sioux City, Iowa, joining a team with a solid history, but leaving behind families of their own to become a part of ours and pursue their dream, their passion, to play football. As the owner, Bob Scott, and Bandits coaches will say at the first team meeting, we ARE a family – and we all truly mean it.

“This is the toughest night of the season for me,” stated Offensive Coordinator JD DeGeorgia. “We’ve become a family, and it’s hard saying good-bye to family.”

To say the least.

Most of the staff has been with the Bandits for the lifetime of the team. Scott purchased and has been the managing partner of the team since 2001. Strohbeen was a player back in 2000 when it was still the Attack, and went from a player one season to coaching the next. DeGeorgia first put on a Bandits uniform in 2000 and played/coached off and on since then. Defensive Backs Coach John Zevenbergen has been a Bandit since 2006, and Defensive Coordinator Marlon Lobban joined the team in 2012 as a player before switching to coaching after six seasons. Equipment Manager Tony “Billy the Bandit” Payne is one of the driving forces behind Sioux City getting an indoor team in the first place. Paul Dacres, Cindy Belson, Annette Torgeson, and myself have all been with the team since I can remember – and I started helping out in 2001.

So, Coach Strohbeen did what all leaders must eventually do at some point; control the emotions, take control, and dive in.

The team awards as follows:

Fan of the Year – Each year a “super fan” is selected to receive the Fan of the Year award. This is someone who has been a fan, supportive on and off the field, positive, and is always there with an encouragement or to cheer the team on. 2019 Fan of the Year goes to Cissy Miller.

Most Improved – The recipient of this award has proven himself time and again, took a secondary spot last year and worked hard to move into the starting position this year. Through hard work, dedication, and determination, the Most Improved award goes to Blake Frank.

Rookie of the Year Offense – Joining the team in 2019 and showing his coaches he is not going to take it easy, is Rookie of the Year on Offense, Londell Lee. With 536 total yards, 428 receiving yards, 12 receiving touchdowns, and 24 receptions with 17.8 yards per catch, Lee didn’t take it easy his first season at all.

Rookie of the Year Defense – A strong defense is just as important as a strong offense, and Rookie of the Year Kenneth Maxwell definitely pulled his weight on defense. Getting stronger and more confident as the season progressed, Maxwell ended up with 74 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, nine pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Good job rookie!

Player of the Year Special Teams – With 179 yards and five touchdowns in the eight games he played, Special Teams Player of the Year Todd Macon was just getting warmed up. Hopefully we will see him next year and he will show us how he can light it up in a full season.

Player of the Year Offense – In ten games, Player of the Year Offense recipient Dillon Turner left no doubt he could adapt to the indoor game. With a completion rate of 64%, 1331 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 433 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, 43.3 rushing yards per game and a passing efficiency of 174.6 (second in the league), Turner definitely made a statement by sitting in the top five for the league in passing yards per game, passing touchdowns, rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns.

Player of the Year Defense – With four seasons with the Bandits under his belt, Ben Pister has only gotten better. His 38 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss (62 yards), ten sacks, one interception, one pass breakup, three quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery, three forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks makes this Ben Pister’s best year yet!

Team MVP – This long-time veteran of the Sioux City Bandits missed the presentation to bring a long-awaited blessing into the world. Frederick Bruno missed several games and still had 916 all-purpose yards, 371 kick return yards, 306 receiving yards (26 receptions), 214 rushing yards, one touchdown, and one baby to make this a great season.

Mr. Bandit – This award goes to the player who has exhibited on- and off-field excellence. His character and willingness to step up and do whatever it takes, taking on any position he needs, helping out teammates, working with the kids, and being available for community events is why this year’s Mr. Bandit award goes to Braden Meints. In his rookie year with the Bandits he definitely made an impact with 167 rushing yards (four touchdowns), 115 receiving yards (three touchdowns), 33 tackles (two for loss), two sacks, two pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and filling in as kicker had ten of 15 points after touchdown (PATs) and one of three field goals.

As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” and every season wraps up with a teary-eyed End-of-Season Team Awards Dinner. The players leave as a group with hugs and a last laugh or two before they pile in their cars to prepare for their trip back home – back to the friends and family who have supported their decision to be here so they can be a Bandit.

We hope to see them again next season.