The Cleveland Gladiators are on a roll, winners of four straight and playing for first place in the National Conference tomorrow night at the Q Arena in the Gladiators final home game of the regular season as they take on the Arizona Rattlers. Inside the Arena sat down with Gladiators wide receiver Collin Taylor to discuss the season.
“We feel great to be on a roll. With everyone getting in the playoffs this season, we just want to, and have to, peak at the right time,” he said, “we’re playing really good football now, but have to make sure to stay consistent moving forward. Four wins is good, but it’s not our goal.”
With the Arena Football League redoing the league and only looking for very strong and stable owners, the league is a little smaller, but there is still importance on winning the division because it locks a team in at one of the top two seeds. With Cleveland one game behind the Rattlers, it sets up a huge game this weekend.
“Arizona is going to be a very tough game. Even though they’ve lost a few games in a row, they’re still the Arizona Rattlers. To me, they’re still one of the best teams in the league,” he said, “I cannot help but still think about the beating they gave us in the Arena Bowl two years ago, so any opportunity to play them at home, gives us the opportunity to avenge that loss in front of our home crowd.”
Taylor is one of the main stars on the Gladiators, but he knows teamwork has had a lot to do with the team’s four game run. Defensive back Marvin Ross has added the dagger in the last three games with overtime interceptions vs Portland and at Tampa Bay, and last week in regulation with 90 seconds to go, giving the team a two score lead in Cleveland over rival Philadelphia Soul.
On Ross, Taylor states, “Marvin has been huge. He had a great camp, and a lot of us thought he should’ve been a starter coming out of camp. He stayed consistent, and continues to work on his craft every single day. So the fact that he’s had success is no surprise to all of us. We’ve known he’s had it in him, and he’s showed up a few times when we’ve needed him the most.”
We also asked Taylor about the upcoming six game trip to close out the regular season. “Six road games in a row is not something any of us are used to, or really know what to expect. We have to be laser focused on each opponent, each week. We can’t start looking ahead to other games, other flights, and other trips. Take care of business game by game, and in the meantime, rack up some extra airline miles.”
Taylor, who is also a personal trainer, has been tearing up the record books with 25 straight games with at least one touchdown. We asked him what that has meant to him and how the team is following his lead.
“I joked with the guy who found the stat, after 19 games, that he was going to jinx me. He hasn’t yet, but it was something that I never even thought about. My plan every week is go out and do everything I can do to help this team win. It just turns out, for 25 games in a row, they’ve needed me to score, so that’s what I’ve done.”
But the streak also confirms to me, what I’m doing, on and off the field, is right. I linked up with the guys at Force Barbell, in Fishers, Indiana, and they’ve got all my off the field training honed in. And all the hard work we do daily on the field at practice has been exactly what we’ve needed to do to be successful on Saturday nights.”
The Gladiators may have won their last four games, but it wasn’t an easy start. “The toughest part about playing at 1-3 and 1-4, was that we came out on the field every week with different personnel. I believe that was a big issue early on,” Taylor said, “New quarterbacks, new wide receivers, new defensive backs. It’s tough to get on the same page when injuries are forcing new players to get on the field every week.”