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Gladiators host rival Venom with home field on the line

The Duke City Gladiators take an enormous leap up in class Saturday night when they face the Amarillo Venom in a crucial Champions Indoor Football meeting in Tingley Coliseum. Home field in the first round of the postseason is at stake.

The Gladiators are coming off last Saturday’s 123-6 home exhibition victory over the North Texas Savages, a minor league indoor team that served as an emergency fill-in when Duke City’s originally scheduled foe, the CIF’s Texas Revolution, was ousted by the league because of financial issues.

Now comes Amarillo, the Gladiators’ arch rival, for their third meeting of the season. Both teams are 5-3 and tied for first in the Southern Division with four weeks remaining in the season.

In Week 2, the Gladiators beat the Venom 70-30 at Tingley. Four weeks later, Amarillo beat visiting Duke City 88-62, ending the Gladiators’ nine-game winning streak that began last season for the reigning league champs.

This season, CIF teams are 8-21 on the road, including the combined mark of the Venom and Gladiators of 1-6.

By virtue of the Gladiators’ upcoming victory by forfeit over Texas on June 13, they essentially have a 6-3 record and already have clinched one of the division’s two playoff berths.

Amarillo is a virtual lock to get the other, because with the Revolution gone, that leaves only the expansion Oklahoma Aces (1-7) in the running. Their tragic number is 1 – one more Amarillo win or Oklahoma league loss eliminates the Aces.

Thus, the winner tonight not only will take a one-game lead in the standings but also own the tiebreaker.

Duke City QB Robert Kent, formerly of the Revolution, makes his first league start for the Gladiators since being acquired in the dispersal draft. Last week he threw for five TDs in limited action against North Texas. In that game, the Gladiators scored seven times on defense and also on a kickoff return by Dello Davis.

Amarillo is led by veteran QB Nate Davis, who has a league-best 46 TD passes. He’s had 27 scoring throws over his past three games, including nine in the Venom’s home win over Duke City.

CEREMONY: Gladiators owner Gina Prieskorn-Thomas said there will be a halftime ceremony tonight during which members of the 2018 title-winning squad will receive their championship rings. A championship banner also will be displayed.

UPCOMING: The Gladiators face host Oklahoma in Enid a week from today. On April 13 in Tingley, Duke City defeated Oklahoma 92-6, the greatest margin of victory in a league game for the Gladiators in their five-season history.

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