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Gladiators face ‘elimination game’ tonight

Duke City Gladiator Dexter Manley (10) celebrates a touchdown earlier this season against San Angelo. The Gladiators will visit the Texas Revolution tonight. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Duke City Gladiator Dexter Manley (10) celebrates a touchdown earlier this season against San Angelo. The Gladiators will visit the Texas Revolution tonight. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

The first portion of the Duke City Gladiators’ exhausting week was a success. Now it’s time for Part 2.

The Gladiators (6-3 overall, 4-3 in league games) are coming off a 47-10 victory against the host San Angelo Bandits on Monday and will travel to face the Texas Revolution (7-4) in Allen tonight in yet another key Champions Indoor Football league game.

By time the Gladiators return home Saturday, they will have traveled more than 2,300 miles via bus since Sunday. The journey to Allen is roughly 12 hours.

“It’s an elimination game for both teams,” Gladiators coach Dominic Bramante said Wednesday. “The San Angelo game was important, because we don’t look past anybody, but this game coming up against the Revolution is our most important game of the year.

“This will be our biggest challenge in our time in Albuquerque. They have a phenomenal quarterback in Robert Kent and a great offensive line. And they have a better defensive line.”

The first-year Gladiators are returning to the site of their most lopsided loss. On March 20, in their inaugural game, they were defeated 56-16 by the Revolution.

Bramante and his staff have had an extremely short week readying for tonight’s game after returning home from San Angelo at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“We’ll even have group meetings on the bus ride to prepare for battle Friday night,” he said.

The victory over the Bandits on Monday featured the pass-catching of James Cleveland and UNM alum Roland Bruno, who had two TD receptions apiece from QB Kasey Peters.

Defensively, Duke City held the Bandits without a score on their final nine possessions. That performance came a week after the Gladiators were 89-86 losers at Amarillo in a four-overtime game. That’s the same Venom team the Revolution beat 64-61 last week.

“We knew we had to play really hard and make corrections,” Bramante said of his team’s defensive effort against San Angelo. “They carried themselves with a little bit of pride and came up with a great performance.”

Bramante added that ex-Lobo LaMar Bratton, a first-team all-MWC performer last season, will start at center tonight.

GUESSING GAME: Gladiators fans who visit the league’s gocif.net website no doubt have been frustrated the past month trying to determine Duke City’s record in league play.

The site currently lists the Gladiators at 4-3 in one location and 5-3 in another, apparently including a non-league victory against the Texas Stealth. Bramante confirmed the correct mark is 4-3.

RETURNING HOME: After tonight’s game, the Gladiators will close the season June 6 against the Salina (Kan.) Bombers (6-5).

Since Duke City’s home at Tingley Coliseum is unavailable, the game is scheduled to be played at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center at 6:05 p.m.

The playoffs open the next week, with the top two seeds in the nine-team league playing host to semifinal-round games.

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