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Gladiators have tough road ahead of them

As far as schedules go, it can’t get much worse for the Duke City Gladiators this week with two Champions Indoor Football league games four days apart.

And both are on the road in Texas – first against the San Angelo Bandits tonight and Allen against the Texas Revolution on Friday.

That amounts to about 2,300 bus miles on two round trips, which is the equivalent of driving to Maine. And the Gladiators won’t be in a sleeper bus, either.

“I’m not happy about it,” Gladiators coach Dominic Bramante said of the upcoming schedule Friday afternoon at the team’s home base at Hotel Cascada. “To ask the guys to play two football games in the span of 96 hours isn’t fair. … But we have no choice in the matter. We’ll just attack this like we have every other challenge.

“We’ll be on a bus for 44 hours and by no means is it comfortable.”

The CIF schedule maker didn’t have any of the other league teams playing on such short rest this season. The tightest scenario was when the Omaha Beef played two road games six days apart. Even in the NFL this season, when all 32 teams will have to play two games four days apart (Sunday/Thursday), none will play both on the road.

“I’ll bring a couple of pillows and stretch out best I can,” quarterback Kasey Peters said in a phone interview Saturday night before embarking on the first leg of this week’s adventure.

Last week he was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Amarillo on May 16 when he threw for eight scores and 390 yards in an 89-86 loss to the Venom in four overtimes. He even rushed for a touchdown.

Peters said, however, that wasn’t the best outing of his indoor football career, pointing to a game against San Angelo two years ago when he threw for 12 touchdowns for the New Mexico Stars against the Bandits.

The game against the Venom lasted 4 hours and 38 minutes and ended at 11:43 Amarillo time (CDT).

“It was a tough ride back, with everyone being down,” Bramante said. “We had (Amarillo) beat. It was in our grasp so many times, but four times on their last five scores they scored on fourth down.”

Bramante points to one play in particular, with Duke City leading 83-77 in the third overtime when Amarillo’s quarterback released a desperation pass.

“It was fourth down and Nate Davis was literally going down on a sack,” Bramante said, “but he just flipped the ball out, and I’ll be darned if the tight end catches is at the goal line. It was excruciating, is what it was. That loss was devastating to us.

“The football gods just said, ‘It’s not your day.’ Oh, and then we break down on the bus on the way home (70 miles east of Albuquerque). Needless to say, I’ve had better weekends.”

The loss to Amarillo dropped the Gladiators to 3-3 with three games to play. That puts them in seventh place in the nine-team league. Had they won, they’d be in second with a .667 winning percentage. The top four teams make the postseason.

Peters said he’s confident the Gladiators can overcome last week’s defeat and this week’s hardships.

“It’s going to be really tough physically – and with the travel – but we have a resilient bunch,” he said.

This will be Duke City’s third game against San Angelo this season. On April 4 at Tingley Coliseum, the Gladiators beat the Bandits 51-34, scoring the final 22 points of the second half. On May 2, Duke City traveled to San Angelo and won 64-61 on a 48-yard field goal by Zeke Arevalo with 23 seconds left.

NOTE: The Gladiators’ season finale is June 6 vs. the Salina (Kan.) Bombers. Since Tingley is unavailable, Duke City opted to schedule the game for the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho at 6:05 p.m.