History of the GLADIATORS

From Bradenton Gladiators to Southwest Florida Gladiators.

​Southern States Football League (SSFL) ERA -  The Bradenton Gladiators rose from the ashes of the Manasota Stars (2001 UFL Champs) and quickly became a contender in the SSFL.

Florida Football Alliance (FFA) ERA - The Bradenton Gladiators became one of the founding teams in the newly formed Florida Football Alliance (FFA). In 2015 the Southwest Florida Gladiators were born out of the ashes of the Bradenton Gladiators. The Southwest Florida Gladiators have become a state wide powerhouse and are currently ranked as the #1 team in Florida.

2005 - On January 22, 2005 the Gladiators kicked-off their inaugural season at Venice as an underdog against the established Vikings. What started out as a pleasant evening, saw the 4th quarter expire with a 21-21 tie, in the rain. Overtime ended when Gladiator quarterback Antonio Hale snuck across the soaked goal line, sealing the Gladiators first ever game with their first ever win.

2006 - The Gladiators earned their first Division and Conference Championships, as well as punching their first ticket to the league Championship game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando in only their second year. Unfortunately they lost.

2007 - ​The Gladiators overcame injuries to secure another Division title.


2008 - Their fourth year they completed their first undefeated season (including having overcome a three touchdown half-time deficit against the Knights of Miami) and hung another Division and Conference Banner on their way to a loss in Alliance Bowl I in Daytona. 

2009 - Year five saw turmoil within the organization but were still able to squeeze out a one loss record, a Divisional Title, and their first back-to-back appearance in the Conference Championship game.

2010 - Another divisional title in year six, featuring an impressive 62-0 win over the infamous St. Pete Sharks. But an early loss in the playoffs ended a promising season.

2011 - Year seven saw another Divisional Title, a one loss record, and a trip to the Conference Championship where the season ended.

2012 - The eighth season produced another trip to the Alliance Bowl and another loss, this time in Miami, which threw a wet blanked on the Gladiators second undefeated regular season.

2013 - After eight years the Gladiators found themselves entering year nine in a new Division and Conference. They finished second in both, losing in the NFC Conference Championship by 4 points to the Orlando Rage.

2014 - Revenge came early in their tenth anniversary year as they defeated the Rage in week two 21-15. The rubber match against the Rage was the NFC Conference Championship where the Gladiators, who were down 10 - 0 with their backs against the goal line, put up a goal line stand and then put up 27 unanswered points to snatch the NFC Title and their third trip to the Alliance Bowl. It would be the Gladiators fourth league championship appearance, the second in Daytona. Unfortunately for the Bradenton Gladiators it would also be their 4th championship game loss.

2015 - The Gladiators reformed as the Southwest Florida Gladiators under the new ownership and guidance of Rose and Derek Greenwood. The Gladiators started 2015 off with an undefeated preseason, beating two respected UFF teams by large margins. Lead by an great defense, the Gladiators rolled to 7-0 and a #1 ranking in the FFA. The following week the Gladiators gave away a heart breaker to the Tampa Patriots, losing in overtime. Changes were made to the coaching staff, but the Gladiators dropped another the following week to the Orlando Phantoms. The Gladiators ended their regular season at 8-2 and Divisional Champions thanks to the Patriots losing their week 10 game vs. the Phantoms. The Divisional Title also gave the Gladiators a bye week, and a Divisional Round home game. The Divisional game once again pitted the Gladiators against the Tampa Patriots but this time the Glads came out on top and won the season battle 2-1. The Gladiators next faced the Orlando Rage for their third consecutive NFC Conference Championship. With a tied score of 15-15, the Gladiators claimed victory with a Touchdown pass with only 20 seconds remaining. The FFA "Alliance Bowl VIII" Championship was between the reigning back to back Champion Magic City Bulls and the new Southwest Florida Gladiators. The Gladiators ushered in a new era in the FFA with a 51-27 Alliance Bowl VIII blowout of the Magic City Bulls!

2016 - The Gladiators were coming off their first Championship season. Hopes were high for a repeat but they fell short in a lopsided loss in the Conference Championship game in Miami. The Gladiators couldn't overcome the injuries sustained during the season and finished 8-4.

2017 - The Gladiators had a youth movement which helped them to a perfect 10-0 regular season and a Division title. But the Gladiators couldn't overcome mistakes (fumbles) in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and lost a close 6-2 battle to end the season. The Glads finished the season 10-1.

2018 The year started with the Tampa Patriots folding due to field issues and about half the team joined the Gladiators. This meant much of the season was trying to figure out where everyone fit in the big picture. Seems the coaching staff did a great job because they ended up 9-1 in the regular season, Division Champs and earned the #1 seed in the north for the playoffs. The Glads won both play off games and won the 2018 Alliance Bowl 17-14! A really good season and a second Championship for the Southwest Florida Gladiators.

2019 The year started with the Gladiators hosting the Kickoff Classic. The rest of the season went just the way they wanted because and ended up 10-0 in the regular season, Division Champs and earned the #1 seed in the North Conference in the playoffs. The Glads won both playoff games and then went on to win the 2019 Alliance Bowl in a 29-0 masterpiece! With this dominating win the Gladiators made their mark on history as the first team in FFA history to ever post an Alliance Bowl shutout. A great season and a third Championship for the Southwest Florida Gladiators. Back-to-back Alliance Bowl Champions!

2020 Was shut down mid season due to Covid. We were shut down after game 6 with a 5 - 1 record.

2021 With two championship wins back to back the Gladiators
had a chance to make history with one more championship in a row. Never before had an FFA team been about to win a 3 peat. ​The season went just the way they wanted and they ended up 9-0 in the regular season, Division Champs and earned the #1 seed in the North Conference in the playoffs. The Glads won both playoff games in dramatic come from behind fashion and then went on to win the 2021 Federation Bowl 23 - 12. With this dominating win the Gladiators made their mark on history as the first team in FFA history to ever 3 peat. It was a great season and a forth Championship for the Southwest Florida Gladiators. Back-to-back-to-back FFA\FFA 2.0 Champions!

2022 Is on the clock. Could there be a 4 peat?

Over the years the Gladiators have seen players and coaches come and go, yet the wins keep piling up. As they enter their second decade they've added new faces in players, coaches, and the leadership group. With everything mixed with a lil' old and a lil' new, the Gladiators look to continue an excellence that includes 7 Conference Titles, 13 Divisional Titles, 11 Conference Championship appearances, 5 undefeated regular seasons, 16 winning seasons and 16 play-off appearances in as many years. 2021, 2019, 2018's and 2015's FFA Title, NFC Crown, and Divisional Banner are the baseline for the Gladiators as one of the FFA's elite teams, but also as a point of focus for the off-season training. As the Gladiators look to fill vacancies due to retirement, a focus will be placed on team players who have the discipline, work ethic, and drive to compete to be on the field. Already encompassing players from both sides of the bay, the Gladiators are starting the 2022 season looking for dedicated new players who are willing to compete for a starting position.