The Duke City Gladiators will duel the Arizona Rattlers at the Rio Rancho Events Center Saturday.

Kickoff is scheduled at 6:05 p.m. with a tailgate starting at 3.

The two teams squared-off in Week Two of this year’s IFL season with the Gladiators coming away with the loss (50-28). Saturday’s game is the second match-up of a four-game home series for the Gladiators.  

“We are looking to avenge from our week one loss to the Rattlers,” said Gladiators’ owner Gina Prieskorn-Thomas. “Adversity has hit our team hard, especially with our quarterback Nate Davis sustaining an injury in our first game of this season against the Rattlers. We will bounce back from starting our season 0-2. We are focused on getting back to the win column this weekend.”  

During the March 19 match-up, the Rattlers did not allow the Gladiators to score a single point in the second half. The two teams will face each other for a third time this season June 18 at the Events Center.  

“The Rattlers came out ready to battle during our first game,” Prieskorn-Thomas said. “We matched up with them during the first half, but the second half was a different story on both sides of the ball. Our coaches and players have made positive strides and Saturday’s game will be a different story.”  

Davis remains out on injury. Back-up quarterbacks Caleb Holbrook and Ramone Atkins are expected to suit up for the Gladiators.   

“We need to recover from starting our 2022 season with two losses,” Prieskorn-Thomas said. “We need to stop the bleed now with the season still being young. I am grateful that Ramone and Caleb have stepped up to the quarterback position – which wasn’t an easy task.”  

During last Saturday’s game against the Frisco Fighters, Atkins played his first indoor football game, while Holbrook returned to the field after a several year break. 

Baguante joins Gladiators’ coaching staff

Bones Bagaunte is a name that New Mexico can get used to. He joins the Gladiators staff as receivers coach and player personnel. Bagaunte joins the Gladiators following a brief stint at the defunct Spokane Shock. During the 2021 season, he served as offensive coordinator for the United Bowl champions, Massachusetts Pirates. 

“Having Bones joins the Gladiators demonstrates our commitment to bring championships back to New Mexico,” Prieskorn-Thomas said. “He built a dynamic offense in Massachusetts and brings seven years of arena football experience both as a player and a coach to the Gladiators. Our offense is about to get even more explosive and powerful with is leadership as receivers coach. We are thrilled to have a coach of his caliber with the Gladiators.” 

He had an All-American career at the University of Cincinnati, where he was wide receiver and defensive back. He started for 52 games for the Bearcats. Baguante broke several school records.  

He brings seven years of indoor football experience as a player and coach to the Gladiators. He played with the Pirates as a wide receiver in 2018. Last season as offensive coordinator for the Pirates, he produced the United Bowl MVP in quarterback Alejandro Bennifield, and five All-IFL offensive players.  

Baguante, who had a NFL stint with the Cincinnati Bengals, also serves as an assistant football coach for the Cowboys of New Mexico Highlands University. 

$7 tickets for Rio Rancho residents

The Gladiators are offering $7 general admission tickets to Rio Rancho residents to Saturday’s game; that oOffer is redeemable at the center’s box office.  

“Last season we had to relocate to the Events Center due to our regular home (Tingley Coliseum) being used for COVID-related matters,” Priekskorn-Thomas said. “Rio Rancho has embraced us; this discounted ticket rate is a ‘thank you’ to its residents.”