Tonight marks an enormous opportunity for a humble football team to claim it's first winning season since the franchise first took the field in 2017.
As members of Champions Indoor Football, the Bismarck Bucks finished their first season with 5 wins and 7 losses. While that put them in the playoffs, their road trip to Sioux City was a dismal defeat to the gun-slinging Bandits, who shot 'em up for a whoppin' 82-43 final.
Their second season was almost identical with another 5-7 record, a playoff berth, and a 81-51 loss at the merciless hands of the Salina Liberty.
The Bucks didn't stop here, as they joined the Indoor Football League for the 2019 season, where the competition stiffened even more. A 2-12 season ensued, and Bismarck didn't seem to get much interest from high-talent players.
An offseason with not much great signings had the Bucks ranked # 13 of 13 for the 2020 season. Bismarck was one of only 4 teams that got to play in 2020, and their only game was a home loss to the San Diego Strike Force, 50-36.
To Bismarck's credit, they never gave up trying to be the best they could be. The owners have stuck with Head Coach Rod Miller, and it seems to be paying dividends. The franchise had an all-time record of 12-29 entering the 2021 season, and many considered them to be the "punching bags" of the IFL. But, to the surprise of alot of fans, they are currently 7-7 in a very competitive league. They've clinched their first IFL playoff berth with a chance to secure their first ever home playoff game--if they can win at Duke City, tonight!
To be sure, they've been a mixed bag throughout the year. Some might criticize that 57 % of their wins are against one team--the Green Bay Blizzard. Winning the same team 4 times in a season of smash-mouth football is a feat in and of itself. Their other wins, however, are an impressive 61-39 win over the expansion NAZ Wranglers, a 58-22 beatdown of rival Iowa Barnstormers, where they held former MVP Daquan Neal to only 2 completions throughout the game, and...a beautiful surprise victory over the # 2 Frisco Fighters, who's only other loss is against the 10-3 Massachusetts Pirates.
Bismarck has lost 2 games each to the Pirates, the Barnstormers, and the Sioux Falls Storm, and an embarrassing loss in Tucson where the quarterback rolled his ankle on the final play of the game. It's been an up-and-down season for the Bismarck Bucks who have never been able to get their offensive groove due to 5 different starting quarterbacks throughout the season. Richard Stametti, Glen Cuilette, and Kelly Bryant (who signed with the CFL) are no longer on the team. QB Caleb Lewis has been down several weeks with an injury. Rookie quarterback, Keyante Allen, is 1-2 as the starter going into the biggest game of his career. He'll have to bring his complete A game to keep up with Duke City's #1 offense at 52.3 points per game. While Allen is coming off his best game of the season, where he threw 4 touchdowns and added one on the ground, the Gladiators have scored an IFL-high 71 points in 2 of their last 5 games.
Bismarck's defense is currently 6th in the league allowing 40.4 points per game. Duke City's defense is ranked 10th, allowing 47.5 a game. DB Malik Duncan and LB Darreon Jackson look to slow down the high-flying Gladiator offense. QB Nate Davis has thrown for about twice as many touchdowns as the 2nd place quarterback in the league. WR Dello Davis has caught 28 touchdowns this season. The Davis-to-Davis connection is lethal and the Bucks secondary is up to the challenge. To date, the Duke City Gladiators have had 3 games in which they have scored 10 touchdowns. No other team in the league has reached that in even one game.
For Bismarck fans, this seems like a daunting task for their team. If they win in Duke City, and Iowa loses in Massachusetts, then fans can have their first home playoff game since the franchise started. For Duke City, they must win, with an Iowa loss for a chance at a home playoff game, as well.
The Bismarck Bucks have already exceeded expectations, but tonight will tell where they get seeded in the playoffs. Will they win tonight for their first winning season, or will they falter? Find out tonight at 8:00 Central Time, right here on Youtube:
written by Ducon Williams