Soul confident they can upset Gladiators

Posted: August 03, 2014

If Soul coach Clint Dolezel is fearful about opening the playoffs against a juggernaut with the best regular-season record in Arena Football League history, he didn't show it.

"We match up well with them," Dolezel said of the Soul (9-9), who will play a wild-card game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena against the Cleveland Gladiators (17-1). "They are a veteran club kind of like we are."

The Soul do have a healthy dose of respect for the top-seeded Gladiators.

"The biggest difference is they believe they are going to win every football game," Dolezel said. "They have played close games and have come out on top in all but one."

Winner of just four games last season, Cleveland rebounded to post the best regular-season mark in the AFL's 27-year history.

Two of those victories - decided by a combined three points - came against the Soul, and probably should not have happened.

On May 21 in Cleveland, Philadelphia blew a 52-35 lead with 52 seconds to play, allowing three touchdowns - the last with time expiring - for a 54-52 loss. The Gladiators recovered a pair of onside kicks.

On June 21 at home, the Soul were leading, 62-50, then surrendered 19 points in the final 59 seconds. Cleveland quarterback Shane Austin threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Dominick Goodman as time expired to give the Gladiators the 69-68 win.

Winners of three of their last four games, the Soul must get pressure on Austin. He was named the starter four games into the regular season, Austin finished tied for the most passing yards (4,478) in the regular season.

"We have to make their quarterback uncomfortable, it's that simple," Dolezel said.


Soul at Gladiators

What: Arena Football League wild-card game

Who: Soul (9-9) at Cleveland Gladiators (17-1).

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland.

When: Saturday at 7 p.m.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Outlook: Soul benched quarterback Dan Radabaugh last week after he threw three second-half picks. . . . The Gladiators had the best regular-season record in AFL history. . . . Safety Marrio Norman, tied for second in the AFL with 12 interceptions and second on the Gladiators in tackles (78 tackles, 35 assists), signed with the Baltimore Ravens. . . . Soul fullback Derrick Ross leads the AFL with 509 rushing yards and 36 rushing touchdowns. - John N. Mitchell


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

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