Bandits host Sioux Falls

04/14/02 Sioux City Journal
Sioux City Bandits head football coach Carl Reinhardt doesn't look for a lot of points to be scored this afternoon as his squad takes on the Sioux Falls Storm in a 3 o'clock kickoff at the Sioux City Auditorium.

At least, according to the averages that the two teams possess going into the game.

According to current National Indoor Football League statistics, Sioux City (2-0) ranks second on offense with an average of 62.5 points per game after romps over Oklahoma and LaCrosse that started their season. Sioux Falls (4-0) ranks third at 49.2 points per game.

Both teams are strong on defense and Reinhardt feels that defense will set the tone. Sioux City ranks second with a stingy 18.0 average, while Sioux Falls is fourth (23.5).

"It's going to be a low scoring game," Reinhardt said before Saturday night's practice. "Both sides of the ball are sound on defense. We're sound and they're sound.

"We match up well with them," he added. "It's going to be interesting. I believe we're going to shut their running game down and if they go for the air, we'll be ready for them."

Sioux City's defense will face a Sioux Falls offense that averages 254.2 total yards per game, the second best figure in the NIFL. Ryan Aulenbacher, a 6-5, 216-pound quarterback, has passed for 715 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Storm and has the NIFL's fourth-ranked receiver in 6-2, 210-pound Corey Walker, who has caught 18 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown.

Perhaps Sioux Falls will be going more towards the airwaves this afternoon. David Ruter, the NIFL's second leading rusher with 216 yards, will not play because of injury.

"Ruter's not playing, but they still have a very sound offense and they do a lot of tricky stuff," Reinhardt said. "I look for our defense to shut down their running game. They like to go for the bomb and go for the flats, but we'll just to play our defense.

"The key for us is playing our game and staying under control. Composure's another key. I believe the team that composes themselves and doesn't get involved with the play after the whistle will win. I've talked to Darwin Bishop and he has those guys very intense and very ready for the game."

The Bandits have given up a measly 23 rushing yards per game after two weeks, by far the NIFL's best. Overall, Sioux City ranks third in total defense at 145.5 yards per game.

Among Sioux City's defensive leaders is right end Jesse Wavrunek, a 6-0, 240-pound former Wayne State Wildcat. Wavrunek has recorded four quarterback sacks and has twice been named the NIFL's Defensive Player of the Week.

"Jesse's the best athlete on our team," Reinhardt said. "He's very physical. He's the strongest of our team and the third fastest, for a guy who weighs 240, that says a lot.

"He has the ability of a thick rush and is a leader on our defensive scheme. He poses a threat, and then you have Matt Hughes at linebacker. You put Matt Hughes and Jesse Wavrunek on the field together, you have double trouble."

Hughes and Wavrunek will be joined in the starting lineup by left end Darwin Bishop, noseguard Art Maulupe, cornerbacks Lamont Truitt and Trice Trump, strong safety Greg McKinstry and free safety Corey Mayes. Zach Mathers will play strong safety during the game and Pete Jablonski will spell Maulupe at noseguard.

Offensively, Sioux City will feature quarterback Jarrod DeGeorgia, the NIFL's leader in quarterback rating (151.0). DeGeorgia has thrown for 319 yards and seven touchdowns.

"Jarrod is dynamic back there, just a master mind," Reinhardt said. "He has those offensive linemen playing like they'd go through a brick wall for him and I'm serious about that. He has the offensive line so dedicated, so on key, they function as a unit."

From left to right on Sioux City's offensive line will be Evan Mata'u, Erv Strohbeen and Jeff Leng. Jerry Davis (50 yards rushing, 3 TDs) will start at running back, while Erv Whitehead (8 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs), Dave Perrigo (5 catches, 132 yards, 3 TDs) and Johnnie Ostermeyer (5 catches, 62 yards, 1 TD) will complete the offense as DeGeorgia's receivers.

The explosive Sioux City offense will meet a Sioux Falls defense that allows 163.5 total yards per game, which ranks No. 6 in the NIFL. Defensive backs Philip Wilson has five interceptions and his secondary teammate, Todd Tryon, has three interceptions. Both have scored one interception touchdown.

Meanwhile, linebacker Don Hilsenroth ranks fourth in the NIFL with 36 tackles, including 25 solos.

"They're a very aggressive defense and they like to protect the slot," Reinhardt said. "They're the kind of defense that will put pressure on the receivers, so the key for us is to play within our schemes. Our receivers are ready."

Kicker Adam Hicks, who Reinhardt describes as "the icing on the cake", completes the Bandits' starting lineup.

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