Cleveland's Wilpolt named coach of the year

Cleveland Gladiators head coach Mike Wilpolt was selected the 2008 Coach of the Year. Arizona's Kevin Guy, Chicago's Mike Hohensee and Philadelphia's Bret Munsey also received votes from AFL head coaches, fans, players and the Arena Football League writers association.

AFL Coaches of the Year

• 2008: Mike Wilpolt, Cleveland Gladiators
• 2007: Doug Plank, Georgia Force
• 2006: Will McClay, Dallas Desperados
• 2005: Doug Plank, Georgia Force
• 2004: Mike Neu, New Orleans VooDoo
• 2003: Todd Shell, New York Dragons
• 2002: Darren Arbet, San Jose SaberCats
• 2001: Michael Trigg, G. Rapids Rampage
• 2000: Darren Arbet, San Jose SaberCats
• 1999: Mike Dailey, Albany Firebirds
• 1998: Tim Marcum, Tampa Bay Storm
• 1997: Eddie Khayat, Nashville Kats
• 1996: John Gregory, Iowa Barnstormers
• 1995: John Gregory, Iowa Barnstormers
• 1994: Perry Moss, Orlando Predators
• 1993: Danny White, Arizona Rattlers
• 1992: Perry Moss, Orlando Predators
• 1991: Fran Curci, Tampa Bay Storm
• 1990: Ernie Stautner, Dallas Texans
• 1989: Babe Parilli, Denver Dynamite
• 1988: Perry Moss, Chicago Bruisers

• 1987: Tim Marcum, Denver Dynamite

Wilpolt guided the Gladiators (9-7, 2-0), to nine regular-season wins for the first time in six seasons, earning the team's first playoff berth since 2003 and a No. 4 seed in the National Conference playoffs. In 2007, the Gladiators were 2-14 in Las Vegas before moving to Cleveland this year.

The Gladiators defeated the No. 2 seeded Georgia Force, 73-70, in the divisional playoffs and now face top-seeded Philadelphia (14-3) in the National Conference Championship game on Saturday (ESPN, ESPN360.com, 1 p.m ET). It's the Gladiators' second appearance in an AFL Conference Championship and first since 1998.

Wilpolt's offense ranked third in rushing (495 yards) and fourth in total offense (4,843 yards). The Gladiators offense was powered by FB Marlion Jackson, who led the AFL in rushing attempts (108), yards (356) and tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (23). WR Otis Amey led the AFL in scoring (302 points, 50 TDs) while QB Raymond Philyaw ranked second in passer rating (124.5).

Wilpolt was named the Gladiators head coach on September 9, 2007 after spending two seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Avengers.
Prior to joining Los Angeles, Wilpolt was named head coach of the Indiana Firebirds in Week 6 of the 2004 season, and led the Firebirds to an 8-3 record, finishing the season 8-8.
Wilpolt spent a total of six seasons with the Firebirds and was the special team's coordinator on the 1999 ArenaBowl XIII championship team.

As an AFL player, Wilpolt spent four years in the league playing wide receiver/defensive back for the Charlotte Rage (1992), Las Vegas Sting (1994-95) and Anaheim Piranhas (1996).