AFL announces yearly honors at awards ceremony
Friday August 28, 2015
LAS VEGAS – At the 2015 AFL Awards Ceremony on Thursday, the Arena Football League announced the winners of its most coveted individual honors. Philadelphia Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh brought home a pair of awards, including the Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Year and AFL MVP of the Year. Jacksonville Sharks defensive end Joe Sykes earned Riddell Defensive Player of the Year honors, while Portland Thunder wide receiver Duane Brooks was recognized as the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Year. Jacksonville Sharks defensive back Greg Reid finished off the player awards by earning AFL Rookie of the Year honors. The League also announced Philadelphia Soul head coach Clint Dolezel as the recipient of the Marcum-Moss Head Coach of the Year award and Orlando Predators offensive coordinator Siaha Burley as the AFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, AFL MVP OF THE YEAR
Raudabaugh (6-3, 225, Miami University) set new single-season franchise records with 4,992 passing yards and 119 passing touchdowns in 2015. After throwing for the third-highest touchdown total in League history this season, Raudabaugh now ranks 10th all-time with 515 career scoring strikes. He recorded a triple-digit passer rating in 17-of-18 games, guiding the Soul to a 15-3 regular season record and the team’s third East Division championship in the last four years. Raudabaugh is the fifth consecutive quarterback to win Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Year honors and the first Soul player since Chris Jackson to take home the award. He is the first Philadelphia player ever to garner AFL MVP recognition.
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sykes (6-5, 290, Southern) enjoyed perhaps the most dominant individual season of any pass rusher in AFL history, setting new Arena Football records with 18.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in 2015. The five-year AFL veteran, who ranks third in League history with 53.5 career sacks, has now claimed two Riddell Defensive Player of the Year awards, having been previously selected as the top defensive player in the game in 2012. Sykes joins San Jose SaberCats defensive back Clevan Thomas and Arena Football Hall of Fame finalist Kenny McEntyre as the only players in AFL history to win the award more than once. This is the first time a Jacksonville Shark player has earned Riddell Defensive Player of the Year honors.
J LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE YEAR
Brooks (5-10, 185, Stephen F. Austin) made history as a kick return specialist for the Portland Thunder in 2015, leading the League with 1,994 kickoff return yards and an AFL record eight kickoff return touchdowns. The three-year veteran became Portland’s all-time leader in returns, fielding 153 kickoffs for 3,180 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons with the Thunder. He also tallied 60 receptions for 559 yards and seven scores as a receiver in 2015. Brooks is the first Thunder player in history to receive J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Year honors.
AFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Reid (5-10, 190, Florida State) led all AFL rookies with nine interceptions and finished the year with a team-high 11 takeaways in 12 games with the Jacksonville Sharks. The second consecutive Florida State University alum to be named AFL Rookie of the Year, Reid is just the third defensive player in AFL history to win the award, and the first since 2002 when another former Seminole – San Jose SaberCats defensive back Clevan Thomas – earned the distinction. Reid is the first Jacksonville Shark to be named AFL Rookie of the Year.
MARCUM-MOSS HEAD COACH OF THE YEAR
Dolezel guided the Philadelphia Soul to a 15-3 regular season record and their third East Division title in the last four years. Now in his third season as head coach of the Soul, the Arena Football Hall of Famer has established himself as one of the finest minds in the game. Under Dolezel’s tutelage, the Soul were a perfect 9-0 at home during the 2015 regular season and ranked second in the League in both scoring offense (58.9) and scoring defense (45.7), while his protégé, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, flourished, leading the AFL in passing yards (4,992) and passing touchdowns (119) this season. This is Dolezel’s first Marcum-Moss Head Coach of the Year selection and the first time a Soul head coach has earned the award.
AFL ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
Burley presided over one of the most efficient offenses in AFL history in 2015, as the Orlando Predators led the League in yards per play (7.1) and his quarterback, Randy Hippeard, set a new AFL record for completion percentage with a mark of 74.4 in Burley’s system. The former Offensive Player of the Year has quickly transitioned into one of the top play-callers in the game, helping the Predators win back-to-back South Division championships in each of his two seasons with the team.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire 2015 season. This season will also be the first with Scott C. Butera leading the way as Commissioner. The AFL schedule culminates with ArenaBowl XXVIII Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.