Gladiatiors vs. Soul, AFL playoff Saturday

Bryant Kizer | 7/30/2014, 9:51 a.m.
On June 21 at Philly, a 47-yard deflected pass ended up in the hands of wide receiver Dominick Goodman. Gladiators ...

Do the Gladiators have any soul left? This Saturday, they will find out. The Cleveland Gladiators will host the two-time American East Conference champs Philadelphia Soul in the first round of the Arena Football League Quarterfinal playoff.

If the Gladiators (17-1) can run the table they will host the Arena Bowl XXVII on August 23.

But first the Gladiators will have to beat the Soul. Although, they won both games against Philadelphia (9-9), those victories were won on the last play of the game.

On May 23 at Quicken Loans Arena, the Gladiators scored three touchdowns and recovered two onside kicks in the last 52 seconds of the game and won the game on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Thyronn Lewis. Gladiators won 54-52.

On June 21 at Philly, a 47-yard deflected pass ended up in the hands of wide receiver Dominick Goodman. Gladiators were victorious 69-68.

Will that worry Gladiators’ head coach Steve Thonn? It might, they have to play better if they want to advance.

Quarterback Shane Austin is having an MVP type season. He has thrown for 99 touchdowns and nearly 4,500 yards.

Wide receiver and former University of Cincinnati Goodman led the league in receptions with 156 and 34 of those crossed enemies’ goal line. He led the team in receiving yards with 1,671. Lewis led the club with 37 touchdown receptions on 101 catches and 1,525 yards. Collin Taylor had 976 yards on 80 catches and 20 touchdowns.

The Gladiators have a lot of offensive power. On defense, only yielded 78 touchdown passes. Defensive back Marrio Norman led the Gladiators with 12 interceptions. He was second on the team with 78 tackles. His secondary teammate LaRoche Jackson led the team in tackles with 88 and assisted in 35.

This season the Gladiators have set all sorts of records.

• They have won a season-best 17 games.

• They went unbeaten at home 9-0.

• Goodman led the league in reception with 156.

• Austin threw for 99 touchdowns and nearly 4,500 yards in passing.

• Lewis had 37 touchdown passes.

With the buzz of Johnny Manziel and LeBron James, the Gladiators have thrown their surfboard and are seeking to ride on the massive wave in downtown Cleveland. They can still the show by winning AFL XXVII on August 23. Will they?