The Bradenton Gladiators are heading back to the Alliance Bowl for the first time since the inaugural Florida Football Alliance championship game was held in 2008.
The Glads kept their undefeated record intact with Saturday's AFC Championship game victory over the Magic City Bulls. Bradenton's 10-7 triumph ended a tradition of the Bulls in the Alliance Bowl.
The Miami-area club participated in all four of the previous Alliance Bowl games and ended the Gladiators 2011 season in the AFC Championship.
Bradenton received a field goal from Philip Chaltis at the end of the first half and a touchdown by Chris Hall to begin the second half.
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Magic City's Johnny Johnson found pay dirt in the fourth quarter to pull the Bulls within three points.
The Bulls had a chance to win the game in the closing minute with the ball in the red zone, but the Gladiators' Darian Platt intercepted a pass to salt the game away for the Gladiators.
Alliance Bowl V is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar.
Hall of Famer to visit
It's not every day that youth baseball players get a chance to meet a living Hall of Famer. But this week at G.T. Bray park, youngsters get that chance at the Gaylord Perry Invitational, an IBC Nations Baseball-sanctioned tournament this weekend.
Perry, a Hall of Fame pitcher, is scheduled to be at G.T. Bray for photos and to sign autographs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"He's awesome. He's a real super nice guy. He loves to tell stories. He loves to walk around and talk to kids, and help kids on coaching," said Chris Rogers, one of the tournament's hosts.
The three-day tournament kicks off Friday and features 32 teams currently. Registration closes on Wednesday, with each club guaranteed three games. Smoothie King and a concession stand featuring a variety of food items including hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue is expected to be on hand.
Interested teams wishing to play can visit www.ibcbaseball.com/page.cfm?id=526 for more information.
The event isn't limited to just youth baseball players on travel clubs as Rogers said Little League and Cal Ripken Baseball players are invited out to watch the games and get some autographs from Perry.
"We want everyone to come out," Rogers said. "We want to make it a community event."
Gray goes national
Braden River High's Kayla Gray, who plays club soccer for the Lakewood Ranch-based Chargers U-16 girls team, will represent Jamaica in the upcoming CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship.
The tournament is slated for May 2-12 in Guatemala. The top three finishers in the eight-team tourney will represent CONCACAF in the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan from Sept. 22 to Oct. 13.
Gray is a forward on the Jamaican National Team, and plays that position as well as a defender on the Chargers U-16 girls team, which is alive in the FYSA State Cup Championship.
Viewers can follow Gray and her "Reggae Girlz" teammates via CONCACAF TV at www.concacaftv.premiumtv.co.uk/page/Home/.
DeSoto Run set
The annual DeSoto 5K Run is scheduled for this Saturday at 6:15 p.m. This year's event is dubbed, "The Fun Before the Parade." Runners begin at Manatee High School and race down Manatee Ave. to the finish line at the Manatee County School Board Administration Building.
Currently, it costs $30 up until Wednesday as a registration fee. It's $35 for interest participants on race day. Bradenton Runners Club members pay $20. On Thursday and Friday, runners can pick up the race packet at the Fit2Run University Center in University Park from 4-8 p.m.
Pre-registration starts at 4 p.m. at the school board building on race day.
For more information, visit http://www.bradentonrunnersclub.com/2012/03/desoto/
In other racing news, Bradenton's Mickey Hooke placed second overall in the men's division of the Villages 5K Rabbit Run. Hooke also set a new masters and grandmasters course record with his time of 17:10. Hooke was second among all finishers. The race was The Villages 2012 Senior Games 5K Race, too, and Hooke placed first in that.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill