This game came right down to the final seconds. But before we get to that, lets recap.


This game was a rematch between your Southwest Florida Gladiators and the Dade County Raiders. These were the 2 teams that played each other in the 2018 Alliance Bowl. The Alliance Bowl is the Super Bowl of minor league football. In the Alliance Bowl, the Gladiators took their first lead of the game with 1:09 left in the 4th quarter. Then the Gladiator defense did their job by forcing a fumble and stopping the Raiders to win it. That dramatic finish crowned the Gladiators as Champions.


The Raiders didn't take too kindly to the last second loss and vowed they would avenge their loss the next time they played the Glads. The Raiders spent all off season knowing that their first game would be against the Glads in the Kickoff Classic and they pledged to do anything to win. This turned a once friendly relationship into one of bad blood.


Fast forward to this year and game time. The Raiders started off by disrespecting the home team Gladiators by breaking league rules and wearing their dark home jerseys. I guess they were superstitious and thought they lost last year due to being in white jerseys. This really riled up your home town Gladiators. The Gladiators had been plaged this off season with what I like to call the Championship Calm. When you haven't won a championship in a while it's all a player can think about and they are willing to work very hard. Then when they do win, well players can be a bit less dedicated. Look at how the Eagles of the NFL started this last season after their Superbowl win. What the Raiders failed to understand is how this disrespectful uniform move would motivate the Gladiator players and coaching staff.


In a nutshell, the game was a back and forth affair. The first quarter ended 0-0 as both teams were figuring out the other. The Gladiators made several huge mistakes and had a lot of penalties that kept them out of the end zone. The Raiders drew first blood in the second quarter and took the lead 6 - 0. The Gladiators on their next possession drove in to make the game 6 - 6, both teams missing their extra points. At the end of the half the score was Raiders 14, Gladiators 13.


What many people didn't see was how one or two officials were affecting the game. There must have been some sort of a grudge situation because by the end of the game 45 penalties had been called and both Gladiators Defensive Ends had been ejected. Unfortunately, penalties the Raiders were committing were being ignored and Gladiators were being accused of just about everything. Raiders were throwing helmets, Raiders commited offensive pass interference and so on was simply ignored. And so on it went on all night stopping Gladiator drives and helping Raider drives.


But on this night, noting seemed to be able to stop the shear size and power of the Gladiators Offensive Line. The Gladiators kept pounding the ball and throwing when they had to. With just 2 minutes to go the Gladiators retook the lead 28-22. Then the Raiders got the ball back and "drove" the ball down the field. In reality the refs gave them about 40 yards in penalities that don't seem to exist on film. With 6 seconds left in the game, the ball was on the Gladiator 1 yard line. The Raider offense lined up and false started. Amazingly a ref called it and since there was only 6 seconds left in the game and the Raiders had no time outs left, NFL rules state there has to be a 10 second runoff on the game clock. Game Over, Gladiators hang on to win.


Next week the Gladiators are back at home playing the Duval Raiders from Jacksonville. Yes, that is a different Raiders. The Raiders they just beat were the Dade County Raiders from Miami. The Duval Raiders and the Gladiators have never played each other so this one will be interesting. See you all this Saturday at 6:00pm at Lakewood Ranch park. Go Gladiators!

This Saturday, February 23rd, the Gladiators will travel Dunedin to take on the Pirates. Kickoff time is at 5:00pm. Address to the game can be found here.


Last year the Pirates played the Gladiators twice and frankly it wasn't pretty. In the two games combined against the Pirates, the Gladiators won by the staggering margin of 114 - 0.


But that was last year and things have changed since then. The Pirates fired their head coach and brought in a new one. They have also heavily recruited and have signed many new players. The Pirates are starting a new QB, one that last year played for the Gladiators. So, this should be a new Pirates team hoping for a much different outcome then last season.


The Gladiators are currently ranked #1 in the state of Florida. In addition, the Gladiators have also been working hard signing great talent. This weeks expected signings are a running back that played at Marshal and a 6'8" Offensive Lineman that is fresh from the Arena Leagues.


The Pirates are a good organization but it is just too early in their rebuild process to expect to match up against the Gladiators size, speed and talent. The Pirates ship won't stay on top of the water for very long in this one. Expect the Gladiators to come out hard and completely manhandle the Pirates. 


The Gladiators will head into a league wide bye week next week and then off to the Florida

Stingrays before heading home on March 16th to take on the Port Orange Stallions.

Saturday, May 4th, was the Conference Championship game between the home town Gladiators and the River City Commandos from Jacksonville. This is a repeat of last years Conference Championship game and luckily for the Gladiators they won it again. 


This game went down exactly as anticipated, it was a defensive battle that caused both offenses to struggle and make mistakes. There were 5 inceptions each by both teams QBs. There were 2 safeties, one by each defense. This game came down to the Commandos committing just a few more mistakes than the Gladiators and that's all it took for them to lose.


The Gladiators jumped out to a 17 - 2 lead but then after a couple of interceptions, that lead dwindled to 17 - 12 by half time. Both teams made adjustments at half and well the game ended 17 - 12. Neither team in the second half was able to move the ball and score.


The key point in the game came with only about 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The Glads were punting the ball from deep at there end of the field when the punter mishandled the ball and just dropped it. That gave the ball to the Commandos on the Gladiators 12 yard line. The Glads were up by 5 so the Commandos pretty much had to go for the touchdown. 


The game could have been lost at this moment but the Gladiator defense showed what they were capable of and stuffed the Commandos for a big loss. The Commandos in frustration lost their cool and received 2 personal fouls making it 2nd and 50. They couldn't get the first down or even get back into field goal range. The Glad kneeled on the ball and escaped with a hard fought win.


With the win the Gladiators are headed back to the Alliance Bowl for their first ever back to back appearance. Make sure you check back in a few days where I will have a preview of the big game this Saturday in Daytona.

GLADIATORS SINK PIRATES SHIP 

CARDINALS CRASH LAND AT GLADIATORS 

GLADIATORS TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS 

GLADIATORS ON THE ROAD AGAINST

THE PORT ORANGE STALLIANS 

This Saturday, February 9th, the Gladiators will take on the Port Orange Stallions in Port Orange. Kickoff time is at 7:00pm. Address to the game can be found here.


Last year the Stallions made the playoffs as a Wildcard, but lost a nail biter right at the end of the 4th quarter. Earlier that same year, the Stallions played the Gladiators in their their one and only matchup. The Stallions started strong in the first quarter but were simply no match and fell to the Glads 26-6. 


Fast forward to 2019 and the Stallions have had a rough start losing both of their first 2 games by wide margins. They just can't seem to get anything going on offense. So far this season they have failed to score a single point.


The Gladiators are currently ranked #1 in the state of Florida and are of course the defending Champions. In addition, Gladiator ownership and Coaches have been working hard signing great talent that should make a big impact. In just the last 2 weeks they have signed 2 quarterbacks, 2 big ex-college linemen, a tall surehanded receiver, a defensive back and more.


The Stallions are a great organization but this year just don't match up well against the Gladiators size, speed and talent.This game should be all Gladiator from start to finish.


The next home game is not until March 16th as the Gladiators continue their long road stretch.

Saturday, May 4th, was the Conference Championship game between the home town Gladiators and the River City Commandos from Jacksonville. This is a repeat of last years Conference Championship game and luckily for the Gladiators they won it again. 


This game went down exactly as anticipated, it was a defensive battle that caused both offenses to struggle and make mistakes. There were 5 inceptions each by both teams QBs. There were 2 safeties, one by each defense. This game came down to the Commandos committing just a few more mistakes than the Gladiators and that's all it took for them to lose.


The Gladiators jumped out to a 17 - 2 lead but then after a couple of interceptions, that lead dwindled to 17 - 12 by half time. Both teams made adjustments at half and well the game ended 17 - 12. Neither team in the second half was able to move the ball and score.


The key point in the game came with only about 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The Glads were punting the ball from deep at there end of the field when the punter mishandled the ball and just dropped it. That gave the ball to the Commandos on the Gladiators 12 yard line. The Glads were up by 5 so the Commandos pretty much had to go for the touchdown. 


The game could have been lost at this moment but the Gladiator defense showed what they were capable of and stuffed the Commandos for a big loss. The Commandos in frustration lost their cool and received 2 personal fouls making it 2nd and 50. They couldn't get the first down or even get back into field goal range. The Glad kneeled on the ball and escaped with a hard fought win.


With the win the Gladiators are headed back to the Alliance Bowl for their first ever back to back appearance. Make sure you check back in a few days where I will have a preview of the big game this Saturday in Daytona.

GLADIATORS DESTROY STINGRAYS  

Saturday, February 9th, the Gladiators took on the Port Orange Stallions in Port Orange. I would love to tell you it was a nail biter or some other glamorous story but simply put, the horsey' s were simply no match for the Gladiators.


The Gladiators came out on offense and in 3 plays drove nearly 70 yards down the field for their first touchdown. The only miscue came on their second possession when a handoff was bobbled and the Stallion defense picked it up and ran it in from about 20 yards out for their first and only touchdown. That was the highlight of the game for the Stallions.


By the end of the first quarter the score was Gladiators 26, Stallions 6. By halftime the score was 41 - 6. Luckily, the FFA has a mercy rule which allows a team losing by 30 points or more to request a running clock. They made the request half way through the 2nd quarter. This is the earliest anyone has ever asked for a running clock against the Gladiators. A running clock means that the clock doesn't stop for anything except for penalties and timeouts. Pretty much, a 15 minute quarter is reduced to nearly 15 minutes.


The game was stopped early in the 4th quarter with the score 58 - 6. 


February 23rd, the Gladiators will take on the Dunedin Pirates at Dunedin High School. Can Dunedin stop the Gladiator Juggernaut? Next week I will preview that game.

2019 Schedule Released!

​The official FFA Schedule for the 2019 season has been released. There are some great home and away game for every true fan to see, starting with the Kickoff Classic.


The Kickoff Classic is the premier game of the regular season and this year it will be in Bradenton at the Gladiator home field. It will feature the Gladiators verses the Dade County Raiders. If you are on the ball you will notice that is the exact same matchup as last year's Alliance Bowl. The FFA likes to pair the same two teams again the following season, just to see how the two best teams of last season will stack up this season.


Last season in the Alliance Bowl, the Gladiators pulled off a late touchdown to take the win over the Raiders 17-14 in one of the best Alliance Bowls ever. As a treat to fans of the Gladiators, you won't have to travel across the state to see these two great teams do battle again.


There are other great games all season long that you simply will not want to miss. Come watch a football game the way it was intended. Sit in the stands or grab a folding chair and sit along the edge of the field. But I have to warn you, this is real football with real hits, real sweat and real emotion. It may too much for the TV football fan.


Actually, it's great football played by many of the top stars of the area. Don't miss a single minute as the Gladiators give it their all for the 2019 FFA Championship.

GLADIATORS WIN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP 

GLADIATORS WIN BIG IN THE SAND PIT! 

GLADIATORS HANDLE THE DUVAL RAIDERS

CARDINALS CRASH LAND AT GLADIATORS 

Coming up this Saturday, March 23rd, the Gladiators are headed southeast to Boynton Beach to take on the Southeast Florida Reapers. Just like last game with the Stingrays, the Southwest Florida Gladiators and the Reapers have never played each other. This always makes things interesting. 


The Reapers have a record of 5 -2 and have only lost close games to the best in the south. Their worst loss was to the Magic City Bulls 20-14. With all of their talking on line they are certain they can beat the defending champion Gladiators. But, not so fast. They have a good running game and a good defense. They are inconsistent at passing and they have no field goal or extra point kicker. You may ask, how is that even possible? Good question, I can only assume they figured they would never be stopped in the red zone.


The Gladiators have the best running game in the league. They have the number 2 offensive over all and the number 1 defense. The Gladiators have only given up 28 points in 7 games! And maybe more importantly in this one, the Gladiators have the best kicking squad in the league. So if for some reason the game is tight, the advantage tilts strongly to the Gladiators. The only question mark for the Glads is the number of starters that will be missing from this game. There may be as many as a half a dozen that may not be able to make this trip.


This game is huge for the Gladiators. If the Gladiators win, they will all but secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. At any level of football, home field advantage is big.


The Gladiators enter this game a perfect 7 - 0 and I expect them to exit 8 - 0.  

Saturday, April 27th, was a perfect night for a Divisional Playoff game and the weather was cooperating. The temperature was upper 70's and there was little to no wind. You can't get much better than that for a football game.


The Cardinals were fresh off of an emotional overtime victory in the Wildcard round and were ready to take on the defending champions. When the two teams took the field just prior to the game things were a little chippy between the teams. Emotions were running high with the Cardinals desperately wanting to be the first team to knock off the Gladiators in 2019. Words were exchanged and things needed to be calmed down even before kickoff.


The Gladiators had not played much recently. Being the Division Champions, it automatically adds in an additional bye week due to not having to play in the Wildcard Round. Then the Gladiators had to deal with a forfeit win during this time also. So from March 24 until April 27 the Gladiators only played one game. Typically a team will show a lot of rust coming off or such a long period with no game.


The game started off with the Gladiators on offense and it didn't take very long to drive right down the field and score. But then a little of that rust started to show on defense and the Cardinals threw a couple of quick passes for a TD making the score 7 - 6 Gladiators.


So part way through the first quarter it looked like it may develop into a shoot out but the Gladiator defense would have nothing to do with that. A few small adjustments were made and the Cardinals never even got close to the end zone again. The Cardinals vaulted running game was a complete and utter no show. The Cardinals averaged 155 yards per game all season but against the Gladiators had around 25 total yards.


It was a good first season for the Cardinals but as I predicted their season ended in the hands of the Gladiators. 


As for the Gladiators, when the rust came off, the defense was a wall that the Cardinals had no chance against. The Offense was solid but the timing was also off due to the long break between games. Special teams also suffered from some rust.


This week the Gladiators have to get the rest of that rust off and be ready for a team they have always had very close games with. The River City Commandos are coming to town next Saturday at Lakewood Ranch Park, 6:00pm kickoff.


The Gladiators lead the series against the Commandos 3 -1. The Commandos are tough with a stout defense and a good passing game. But, they do have weaknesses and if the Gladiators plan to get back to the Alliance Bowl in Daytona they will need to exploit those weaknesses.


If the Gladiators can beat the Commandos again just like last year, then the Glads are off to Daytona for another possible FFA Championship which would be the 3rd in just 5 years. The Commandos have lost 3 straight Conference Championships and are desperate for a win. This is a must see game. We need you, the 12th man, to come and be loud and cheer the Gladiators on to victory.


Come and cheer your hometown Gladiators on to a Conference Championship and a repeat trip to the Alliance Bowl.

GLADIATORS ON THE ROAD TO THE REAPERS  

GLADIATORS TAME STALLIONS 

This last Saturday April 6th, the Gladiators were prepared to finish the regular season against their divisional foe, the Dunedin Pirates. After being on the road for 2 months straight it was going to be a relief to finally play at home again.


The last time these two teams met, the game was a little closer than everyone predicted. The final score was of course in the Gladiators favor 19 - 0 but the play was sloppy and not up to standards. With this being the final game of the regular season and with the playoffs staring the team in the face, it was important to shake of the previous mistake ridden play and put together a solid performance.


I would like to emphatically state, with exclamation points, that is what happened! The Glads came out of the locker room and were confident but not cocky. Their heads were in the game and there was a feeling in the air that this was going to be a special performance. At the end of the first quarter the score was 17 - 0 and at half time the score was 38 - 0.


The Gladiators did not punt the ball in the first half at all. In fact they scored on every single drive. Add to that the defensive score and there was just nothing the Pirates could do to stop the mighty Glads.


The Gladiators could run the ball practically at will and could throw the ball well enough to keep things going when needed. The defense was utterly lights out. The Pirates failed to get a single first down in the entire first half. This defense is something special that I have quite frankly never seen before. If you haven't been out to see it, shame on you. You may be missing the finest defense ever assembled at this level of football. The Gladiator kicking game was also back to form and made all but one kick. 


The final score was 44 - 6 as everyone got to play and the Gladiators cruised to an easy victory and a perfect 10 - 0 regular season. The Gladiators stand tall as the only undefeated minor league football team in Florida.


So, what's next? PLAYOFFS! This is the entire reason for a regular season. The regular season is all about making the playoffs and then winning the Division to gain a first round bye and hopefully home field advantage throughout. Mission Accomplished! 


The Gladiators won the Division and are the #1 seed, meaning all roads to the championship run through the Gladiators house. The first playoff game for the Glads is scheduled for April 27th. Put that date on your calendar and make sure you come cheer them on to victory.


They will play either the Jacksonville Cardinals or these same Dunedin Pirates. The last time those two teams met the Cardinals pulled out a one touchdown victory. If that happens again, the Glads will meet the Cardinals on April 27th. That could be interesting as the Gladiators and the Cardinals have never met on the field of play before.


The Gladiators are coming together as a team and seem to be peaking at the right time. With their size, speed and experience, the Gladiators are considered by most to be the favorite to win the Alliance Bowl again in 2019.


If you have never been part of a championship, then this may be your chance. There is something very special with being part of a championship. Being the very best at that moment and at that time is something people never forget.


See you all on April 27th!

The FFA Kickoff Classic is in Bradenton!

There is a big time NFL rules game football coming to Lakewood Ranch. It will be an epic battle featuring last years Alliance Bowl participants. You will have the pleasure of watching the 2018 FFA Champion Southwest Florida Gladiators take on the Dade County Raiders at home at Lakewood Ranch.


In the Alliance Bowl, the Gladiators trailed all game long but came back to win it with just a minute remaining in the 4th quarter. If you don't come to another game all season, this is one you won't want to miss. Go ahead and put Saturday, January 19th at 6pm on your calendar right now. For a full recap of the 2018 Alliance Bowl, scroll down on this page.


The Kickoff Classic is a Florida Football Alliance annual event featuring the past years Alliance Bowl combatants. It seems the loser of the big game always wants another shot at the champ hoping the results are different.


Of course, after the offseason, teams have changed. Players retire or move to other teams during free agency and new players are signed. It will be interesting to see how fast the offenses and defenses can gel and play well together. Rarely does a team look the same in game one as it does at the end of a season. The early favorite is not a surprise, it's the defending champion Gladiators.


The Gladiators are returning the majority of their impact players and have added some pretty spectacular new players that should make the 2019 Gladiators even better than last year. Plus, the Gladiators like to lean on the running game which has a tendency to get on track before the passing game which the Raiders rely on. The defense of the Gladiators shouldn't miss a beat as they are returning almost the entire defense from last year. Last years defense was unquestionably the best in the league. In the preseason Toys for Tots game, the defense pitched a shutout and the visiting Raiders ended up with negative net yards.


For only 10 dollars you will get to see some great local hero's play NFL rules football. It doesn't get any better than that.

!!! STALLIONS FORFEIT TO GLADIATORS !!! 

GLADIATORS WIN FFA KICKOFF CLASSIC

Toys for Tots Game a Big Success

Saturday, December 15th, the Gladiators played in the 5th Annual Toys for Tots Game. Every year the Gladiator organization has put on this charity game to gather toys for kids that would otherwise go without at Christmas. Once again it was a success both on and off the field. We not only gather a couple of huge boxes of toys but also took care of business on the field.


The first quarter started out with the Gladiators testing out their new run game. With the added firepower of 3 new running backs the Gladiators could just about run at will. With 5 runs for more that 40 yards it was an impressive display. The passing game wasn't as impressive but it will come around with more practice.


The Gladiator defense was impressive holding the visiting Bay Area Reapers to less than 50 yards total offense for the entire game. The Reapers just couldn't get anything going against the stout Gladiator defense. The only negative thing for the Glads was the number of penalties. They are for sure going to have to work on that. Without the Gladiator defenses help, the Reapers would have only gotten 4 or 5 first downs for the entire game.


Oh, the score was; the kids won big with a large load of toys. The game was just as lopsided with the Gladiators beating the Reapers 30 - 0.


The regular season will start on January 19th where the 2018 FFA Champion Southwest Florida Gladiators will take on the Dade County Raiders. Yes, that is the same team the Glads beat in the Alliance Bowl 17-14. Seems they wanted a rematch and the league scheduled it to start the season. This game will be a great one and will probably be a close one. More information will be posted about this big game soon.


We would like to thank the Winghouse Bar and Grill of Bradenton for sponsoring the Gladiators this season. They help make games like the Toys for Tots game possible. 


We would also like to thank the US Marine Corp for supporting us in the Toys for Tots game. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This Saturday, April 27th at 6:00pm, your Division Champion Southwest Florida Gladiators will play the #4 ranked Jacksonville Cardinals in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Cardinals got a win in the Wildcard Round last Saturday with a 28 - 22 overtime victory over the Dunedin Pirates. The Gladiators didn't play last week as they won a bye as Division Champions.


This is the first year in the league for the Cardinals and they have never had to play the Gladiators before. This will be their very first matchup so neither team knows what to expect. But I can tell you this, the Cardinals will probably not be ready for the playoff atmosphere they will encounter at the Gladiators home field.


The Cardinals come into this game with a record of 5 - 6 and of course the Gladiators are a perfect 10 - 0. The Cardinals strength lies in their running game and their defense has been good enough to keep them in most games so far this year. What they may not quite understand is no one has been able to run well on the Gladiators monster defense this entire season. As much as they will want to establish a run I just don't see it happening.


The Gladiator offense depends on the run as well, but the Gladiator offensive line is in a league all their own. The Cardinals will not expect the shear size and strength of the line. Then with a host of running backs the Glads will throw at them, I just expect it to be too much for the visiting squad. The Cardinals may keep it close for a quarter but I expect the Glads to be too big, too strong and too fast for the first year Cardinals.


It has been a good first season for the Cardinals but I predict their season ends in the hands of the Gladiators. But this is football and anything can happen on any given day. Two years ago, the Gladiators took a perfect regular season into the playoffs and totally dominated the team yet managed to lose 6 - 2 from self inflicted wounds. The Glads were in the red zone 6 times and came away with zero points in that game. 


Come and cheer your hometown Gladiators on to the Conference Championship Game.

GLADIATORS WIN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP 

The Port Orange Stallions have decided to forfeit this Saturdays game, March 16th, to the Southwest Florida Gladiators. This means there will be no home game and the Gladiators will get the automatic win.


The Stallions were down a few players due to some family emergencies and maybe smartly forfeited to the mighty Gladiators. The Gladiators beat them badly the last time the two teams met. A Gladiator record was set in that the mercy rule was implemented when the Gladiators lead by over 30 points early in the second quarter. The next home game will be April 6th against the Dunedin Pirates and that will wrap up the regular season.

Saturday, May 4th, was the Conference Championship game between the home town Gladiators and the River City Commandos from Jacksonville. This is a repeat of last years Conference Championship game and luckily for the Gladiators they won it again. 


This game went down exactly as anticipated, it was a defensive battle that caused both offenses to struggle and make mistakes. There were 5 inceptions each by both teams QBs. There were 2 safeties, one by each defense. This game came down to the Commandos committing just a few more mistakes than the Gladiators and that's all it took for them to lose.


The Gladiators jumped out to a 17 - 2 lead but then after a couple of interceptions, that lead dwindled to 17 - 12 by half time. Both teams made adjustments at half and well the game ended 17 - 12. Neither team in the second half was able to move the ball and score.


The key point in the game came with only about 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The Glads were punting the ball from deep at there end of the field when the punter mishandled the ball and just dropped it. That gave the ball to the Commandos on the Gladiators 12 yard line. The Glads were up by 5 so the Commandos pretty much had to go for the touchdown. 


The game could have been lost at this moment but the Gladiator defense showed what they were capable of and stuffed the Commandos for a big loss. The Commandos in frustration lost their cool and received 2 personal fouls making it 2nd and 50. They couldn't get the first down or even get back into field goal range. The Glad kneeled on the ball and escaped with a hard fought win.


With the win the Gladiators are headed back to the Alliance Bowl for their first ever back to back appearance. Make sure you check back in a few days where I will have a preview of the big game this Saturday in Daytona.

This last Saturday, February 26th, the Gladiators traveled to Dunedin to take on the Pirates. The Pirates are a Division rival so this was an important game for both teams.


The Pirates had high hopes but taking on the defending champions is a tall order for anyone let alone a team that is rebuilding. As it turned out, it was just too early in their rebuild process to truly match up with the Gladiators size, speed and talent. The Gladiator defense was absolutely unmovable. The one who felt it the most was the Pirate quarterback who was sacked nearly a dozen times.


The final score was Gladiators 19 and the Pirates 0. The Glads used this game as a good opportunity to work on new plays and get both new quarterbacks a lot of work. 


The Gladiators will head into a league wide bye week this week and then off to the Florida

Stingrays before heading home on March 16th to take on the Port Orange Stallions.

Last Saturday, January 26th, the Gladiators faced the Duval Raiders. It was the second home game in a row for the Gladiators and the first ever game in the FFA for the Duval Raiders. The scheduling Gods may not have been smiling on the Raiders because they had to play the defending Champion Gladiators on the road at the Gladiators home field. 


The Raiders are a pretty good team in the United Football Federation where they played last year. In fact they lost late in the playoffs 22 - 18 to the eventual champions. But the FFA is not the UFF, the FFA is the top league in minor league football where you have to be great to have a wining record. Most UFF teams that come to the FFA have a very hard time. In fact, no UFF team has ever won the Championship in the FFA.


From the start, the Raiders were simply no match for the size and power of the Gladiators. The Raiders have some good speed and a decent passing attack with some shifty running backs. They have a pretty solid defense and a quality organization but they have weaknesses. The Gladiators took the ball away 8 times, 5 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries and simply dominated them. 


The game was pretty much over early as the Gladiators were up 33 - 0 at halftime. The second half of the game was time for everyone to play and for the Gladiators to try out new things. The game ended with the mercy rule in effect and a score of 36 - 0.


The Glads are showing signs of the greatness that propelled them to the 2018 Championship. But they are also showing areas that need work. I see potential greatness but it's not quite there yet. 


Next up is a long road stretch where they will play the Port Orange Stallions, the Dunedin Pirates and the Stingrays before heading home on March 16th to play the Port Orange Stallions. 

GLADIATORS WIN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP 

This coming Saturday April 6th, the Gladiators finally come home to wrap up the regular season. It has been a strange season with several forfeits that kept the Glads on the road for over 2 months straight. Their last home game was clear back on January 26th.


In this, the final game of the regular season, the Gladiators will take on the Dunedin Pirates. The last time they met the game was a little closer than everyone expected. The final was Gladiators 19 Pirates 0. The Gladiators spend most of the game trying out new things on offense and quite frankly, just didn't get it going. It was much like the last game against the Reapers where the Gladiators dominated in every statistic except for the score. Yes, they won but it was closer than it should have been.


With the playoffs coming the Gladiators need to get the offense firing on all cylinders. The defense has been outstanding and special teams has been great except for last game where they missed 4 field goals. It is time for the Gladiators to put it all together for a complete game.


The Pirates are trying to finish up a rebuilding season where they will most likely finish a disappointing but improved 4-6. But because of forfeits across the league, the Pirates will sneak into the playoffs. Any team with playoff intentions should be considered dangerous. The Gladiators don't want to take this team lightly or an upset could be the result.


If the Gladiators win this game or if they lose by less that 18 points then the Gladiators will win the #1 seed in the playoffs and will get home field advantage throughout. If the Glads take this game seriously then it should result in a commanding win, the #1 seed and confidence leading into the playoffs.


GLADIATOR FANS, GET READY FOR THE PLAYOFFS!

GLADIATORS HEADED TO FORT MEYERS 

GLADIATORS ON THE ROAD TO

TAKE ON THE DUNEDIN PIRATES 

CARDINALS CRASH LAND AT GLADIATORS 

GLADIATORS HOST DIVISIONAL ROUND 

Saturday, April 27th, was a perfect night for a Divisional Playoff game and the weather was cooperating. The temperature was upper 70's and there was little to no wind. You can't get much better than that for a football game.


The Cardinals were fresh off of an emotional overtime victory in the Wildcard round and were ready to take on the defending champions. When the two teams took the field just prior to the game things were a little chippy between the teams. Emotions were running high with the Cardinals desperately wanting to be the first team to knock off the Gladiators in 2019. Words were exchanged and things needed to be calmed down even before kickoff.


The Gladiators had not played much recently. Being the Division Champions, it automatically adds in an additional bye week due to not having to play in the Wildcard Round. Then the Gladiators had to deal with a forfeit win during this time also. So from March 24 until April 27 the Gladiators only played one game. Typically a team will show a lot of rust coming off or such a long period with no game.


The game started off with the Gladiators on offense and it didn't take very long to drive right down the field and score. But then a little of that rust started to show on defense and the Cardinals threw a couple of quick passes for a TD making the score 7 - 6 Gladiators.


So part way through the first quarter it looked like it may develop into a shoot out but the Gladiator defense would have nothing to do with that. A few small adjustments were made and the Cardinals never even got close to the end zone again. The Cardinals vaulted running game was a complete and utter no show. The Cardinals averaged 155 yards per game all season but against the Gladiators had around 25 total yards.


It was a good first season for the Cardinals but as I predicted their season ended in the hands of the Gladiators. 


As for the Gladiators, when the rust came off, the defense was a wall that the Cardinals had no chance against. The Offense was solid but the timing was also off due to the long break between games. Special teams also suffered from some rust.


This week the Gladiators have to get the rest of that rust off and be ready for a team they have always had very close games with. The River City Commandos are coming to town next Saturday at Lakewood Ranch Park, 6:00pm kickoff.


The Gladiators lead the series against the Commandos 3 -1. The Commandos are tough with a stout defense and a good passing game. But, they do have weaknesses and if the Gladiators plan to get back to the Alliance Bowl in Daytona they will need to exploit those weaknesses.


If the Gladiators can beat the Commandos again just like last year, then the Glads are off to Daytona for another possible FFA Championship which would be the 3rd in just 5 years. The Commandos have lost 3 straight Conference Championships and are desperate for a win. This is a must see game. We need you, the 12th man, to come and be loud and cheer the Gladiators on to victory.


Come and cheer your hometown Gladiators on to a Conference Championship and a repeat trip to the Alliance Bowl.

Last Saturday, March 9th, the Gladiators headed south to Fort Meyers to take on the Florida Stingrays. The Stingrays and the Gladiators had never played each other, so there was a chance this one could have been interesting. 


First, the good part. The Stingrays are fast, very fast which makes them dangerous. They have scored on every team they have played and no one has scored enough points against them to evoke the 30 point FFA mercy rule. However, the other teams the Stingrays have played are good but they are not the Champs, they are not the Gladiators.


I personally thought the game would be close at first. I was wrong. The Gladiators went up 14 - 0 in the first quarter and never looked back. The Gladiator defense was simply too much for the Stingrays who failed to even get a first down in the first quarter. The Gladiator offence was also too much for the Stingrays as they poured on the points. Early in the 3rd quarter the score was 30 - 0 and the mercy rule was in effect. Final score was 37 - 0. 


The Gladiators came into this game a perfect 5 - 0 and left 6 - 0. The Gladiators have now outscored their opponents 184 - 28 with 4 of the games being shutouts. 


Next week, March 23rd, the Gladiators will head to Deerfield Beach to face the Southeast Florida Reapers. This is a big game with playoff implications. If the Gladiators win this game and keep the Reapers below 12 points they will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

This last Saturday in Boynton Beach was the kind of game that will test the heart and soul of a team. It was a game where we were treated poorly by the host team. It was a game where anything that could go wrong did for 95% of the game. It was a game that came down to the wire and it was a game that crushed the hearts of the opponent.


The game started off rocky when about 25 players couldn't make the trip due to family or other reasons. Yes, the Gladiators have plenty of great players but it can seriously disrupt the flow and timing of a team to have players playing in places were they have not received many reps or in some cases they have not played that position in years. 


The Sand Pit is a very unfriendly environment. First of all it is a very sandy field with poor grass coverage and lots of sand bumps and holes. Then the Reapers didn't give us a sideline bench for players, didn't supply water or ice, didn't mark the field properly, wouldn't do the required player check before the game forcing us to do it at halftime which made it difficult to make half time adjustments. All of this and more was against league rules and soured the mood. 


The Gladiators got off to a great start and drove 60 yards down the field to only be stopped by self inflicted mistakes. The normally reliable field goal kicker was sent out and promptly missed wide left. The Reapers offense came out and did exactly nothing and then once again the Glads offense drove the length of the field. This time the field goal was blocked. All in all there were 4 field goals missed. Late in the 2nd quarter the dominating Gladiator defense forced a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown. This made the game 7-0 Gladiators at half.


The Reaper offense did absolution nothing all night except on 1 play in the first 30 seconds of the 3rd quarter. After a Gladiators special teams miscue on the second half kickoff, the Reapers got the ball well inside the red zone. One pass later with rare blown coverage by the Gladiators, brought the score to 8-7 Reapers.


To make matters worse at the start of the 3rd quarter the Gladiator QB went down with a bad ankle. This made it so the #3 QB who is actually a starting receiver had to play QB. He struggled a bit and on 4th down play got hit helmet to helmet and fumbled the ball. There was no flag from the Refs and the Reapers recovered it and ran it in for a touchdown. The 2 point conversion was no good so the score was 14-7 Reapers.


With 3 minutes to go in the 4th quarter the Gladiators had driven to the 2 yard line. Then, like had been happening all night, they botched the handoff, fumbled the ball and the Reapers recovered it. The Reapers started celebrating the victory as they figured they could run out the clock. But the Gladiator defense with its "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" attitude did what they had to do and forced a 3 and out. Then on the ensuing Reapers punt, the Gladiators once again came up big and blocked it. The defense fell on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown with only 1:30 left in the 4th quarter. The extra point team was sent out to tie the game but then the Reapers made the knock out mistake. They jumped off sides and then started arguing with the Ref who promptly threw another flag.


Thinking quickly the Gladiator coaching staff pulled the extra point team off the field and put in the jumbo offense to go for a 2 point conversion since the ball would be placed on the half yard line. This time, finally, the Gladiators were not to be denied. There was a tremendous surge at the line of scrimmage and the Glad QB snuck the ball in for the 2 point conversion and a 15-14 victory over the Reapers.


This game was huge for the Gladiators and all but secures home field advantage throughout the playoffs. All they have to do now is beat the Dunedin Pirates on April 6h at home at Lakewood Ranch and they are the #1 seed.


Don't miss the final game of the regular season, we need you to be at Lakewood Ranch on April 6th and we need you to be loud. The Pirates have never beaten the Gladiators and with your help they won't this year either.

GLADIATORS TO WRAP SEASON AT HOME 

This Saturday, March 9th, the Gladiators are headed south to Fort Meyers to take on the Florida Stingrays. The Stingrays and the Gladiators have never played each other, so this one may get interesting.


The Stingrays are fresh out of a great season in the UFF last year. They made it to the Conference Championship but lost late in the game. This year, the UFF folded operations and the Stingrays decided to head to the FFA. This then is their first season in the FFA and the results so far, are mixed. They are 2 - 2 with one of their wins coming due to a forfeit. They soundly beat the Makos but were beaten badly by the Wolverines and the Reapers. They will have to play better than they have been if they have any hope of defeating the defending Champion Gladiators


The Gladiators come into this game a perfect 5 - 0. The only game that was close was the opener against their last years Alliance Bowl opponent. The games have been decided by a combined 147 - 28 with 3 of the games being shutouts. The Gladiators are big up front and have an arsenal of running backs and receivers. The only question mark is at QB. The Glads have 2 very good QBs but they have yet to gel into the system. The Defense has been a virtual wall, enough said.


This game may be close for a little while as both teams figure each other out. But in the end, the Gladiators should just be too much for the up and coming Stingrays.


Next week, March 16th, the Gladiators will head home to face the Port Orange Stallions. Make sure you come for a great dinner and a game that should thrill Gladiator fans.