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Bandits Host Tennessee Valley Tonight
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April 1, 2005 - Sioux City, IA - One week ago, Jose Jefferson let his Sioux City Bandits take the Easter weekend off, confident they were ready for a game tonight against the Omaha Beef.

After all, the Bandits had two weeks to prepare, drawing a bye last weekend after opening their United Indoor Football season with a 57-29 win March 19 over the Black Hills Red Dogs.

Then, suddenly, the schedule changed.

Due to the league's suspension of the Dayton Warbirds, the entire UIF schedule was revamped. And, instead of hosting the Beef, the Bandits find themselves entertaining one of the UIF's two new teams, the Tennessee Valley Raptors of Huntsville, Alabama.

The game will start at 7:05 tonight at the Tyson Events Center. Tennessee Valley, which played in the af2 from 2000 to 2004, fell 53-51 to Evansville in another March 19 season opener and was also idle last week.

"The word came last Friday," said Jefferson, whose team will now play at Omaha April 9, a date which was originally scheduled as a bye.

"It's an opportunity to play a game," he added. "I don't make the schedule. It's better to play another opponent than to not play at all."

Tennessee Valley is one of two UIF teams that played in the af2 last year. The other is the Peoria (Ill.) Rough Riders, who opened the season with a 53-25 rout of Tupelo (Miss.) last Saturday.

The Raptors went 12-4 in the Southeast Division and qualified for their fifth consecutive af2 playoff. However, only two players returned from that team, cornerback Henry Freeman and kicker David Knott.

Freeman returned an interception 26 yards for the team's first touchdown of the season. He led the Raptors with 75 tackles and four interceptions last year.

Noseguard Lionel Macklin returned a fumble 15 yards for a touchdown in the high-scoring setback. Linebacker Wesley Bynam and safety David Knott, who played for the XFL's Birmingham Thunderbolts in 2001, each recorded a team-high 12 tackles for a defense that gave up 263 total yards, yielding two touchdown passes in the final 32 seconds.

"They fly all over the place on defense," said Jefferson. "There's no slow guy on their defense. Their linebackers are bigger than ours. Their linebackers are hole pluggers, ours are straight read-and-cover guys.

"Our cornerbacks are similar. They're both physical and quick and they're both capable of making plays."

Three different offensive backs combined for 74 yards rushing and each scored a touchdown, including Durocher Miller, the squad's leader with 36 yards. Quarterback Mike Scipione, who backed up Tim Couch at the University of Kentucky in 1998, will make his first start.

Four different offensive Raptors scored touchdowns. Chesaurae Rhodes also returned a kickoff 38 yards for a touchdown.

"Who are you going to cover?" asked Jefferson. "Anyone on the field is capable of scoring, so we have to be sharp in what we do and be disciplined. Their offense is arena style with quick passes and runs with leaps."

The Bandits had a 224-135 advantage in total yards against Black Hills. Jarrod DeGeorgia, who threw for 76 yards and two touchdowns and added a nine-yard touchdown run, will start at quarterback.

The Bandits will also feature two others who will play their first game of the season. Running back Dave Perrigo, who missed the season opener with a prior commitment, will add a boost on both special teams and offense with his speed. The former Northwestern College star combined for 26 all-purpose touchdowns during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Defensive lineman Jesse Wavrunek has been given medical clearance to play after recovering from a knee injury.

"I'm glad Jesse's on our team because he'll beef up our defensive line," said Jefferson, a former Bandits' adversary as the coach of the Lincoln Capitols before taking the Sioux City helm this season. "I faced him enough as an opponent to know that he caused enough trouble. The fans will be happy and he won't disappoint. He's worked his tail off to get this chance to play."

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