Thursday, July 14, 2005

Gladiators Cancel Season

Published: July 13. 2005 12:00AM
By Mike Donoghue
Free Press Staff Writer

The Green Mountain Gladiators semiprofessional football team will not take the field this summer, the Empire Football League said Tuesday.

"It's official. They are not going to field a team this year," Deputy Commissioner Gary Shaver of Hudson, N.Y., said about the three-year-old team that requested a leave of absence from the league.

Attempts on Tuesday to reach Sean Sulikowski, team president or Robert Carpenter, team treasurer, were unsuccessful.

The Gladiators, who had trouble finding a permanent home in their first two seasons, had inked a contract with Winooski High School to play all their home games under the lights on Saturday nights this summer.

Shaver said he was shocked when he received an e-mail late last week from Sulikowski, who asked that the Gladiators be given a leave of absence because he believed it did not have enough players for the full season.

"Sean has worked hard. He has the money, a field and the organization. He doesn't have the number of players," Shaver said.

Shaver said the Gladiators had enough players for an exhibition game in late June. Green Mountain lost 26-0 to the Mohawk Valley Vikings in Waterville, N.Y.

The regular season opener for the Gladiators was set for Saturday at Winooski High with the Orange County Bulldogs of New Hampton, N.Y. Green Mountain had a bye in the league's opening week Saturday.

The Gladiators began three years ago with a small nucleus of players who shifted over from the Vermont Ice Storm, who formed five years ago as the state's first semiprofessional football team. The Ice Storm are a Double A team in the New England Football League, while the Gladiators are a Triple A team in the Empire League.

Shaver said the Ice Storm applied to jump up to the Empire League during the winter, but the Gladiators vetoed the request at the annual meeting in February.

Ice Storm spokesman Scott Aguglia said Tuesday the team never formally applied, but did make an "inquiry." He said the Ice Storm never sent a representative to the annual Empire meeting. Shaver said the Ice Storm may not have attended because they knew the outcome before the meeting.

Under Empire Football League rules, only one team is allowed within a 50-mile radius unless a waiver is granted. Three years ago the Lake City Stars of Plattsburgh, N.Y., granted a waiver to allow the Gladiators the right to join the Empire League.

Lake City allowed the Storm into the league this summer, Shaver said.

The Gladiators are the second team in recent weeks to ask for a leave of absence from the Empire League. The Amsterdam (N.Y.) Zephyrs said they were ready to play on June 26 only to pull the plug two days later, Shaver said.

Nine teams remain as active members in the Empire League, he said. The New Jersey Ravens have been on leave for a couple of years in the 12-team league, he said.

Shaver said the Empire teams that will lose games due to the last-minute leaves by the Gladiators and Zephyrs are free to pick up games with New England Football League teams.
Contact Mike Donoghue at 660-1845 or <>

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