2018 Arena Football League season

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2018 Arena Football League season
League Arena Football League
Sport Arena football
Duration April 13 – July 28, 2018
Regular season
Season champions Albany Empire
League postseason
#1 vs #4 champions Washington Valor (#4)
  #1 vs #4 runners-up Albany Empire (#1)
#2 vs. #3 champions Baltimore Brigade (#2)
  #2 vs. #3 runners-up Philadelphia Soul (#3)
ArenaBowl XXXI
Champions Washington Valor
  Runners-up Baltimore Brigade
Finals MVP Arvell Nelson
AFL seasons
2019 →

The 2018 Arena Football League season was the 31st season in the history of the Arena Football League (AFL). Prior to the start of the season, the league contracted from five to four teams with one team folding, one going on hiatus, and one added expansion team. The 12-game regular season began on April 13 and ended on July 7.

League business

League organization changes

The offseason was marked by uncertainty until the AFL and Arena Football League Players' Union reached a new deal on a four-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA), nearly doubling player compensation and expanding health insurance benefits, replacing the previous CBA, which had expired after the 2017 season. The deal was finally reached amid rumors that the season and league's existence were in jeopardy when the two sides were failing to negotiate through several proposals and supposed ultimatums.[1]

On March 27, 2018, the AFL announced commissioner Scott Butera would be replaced by Randall Boe.[2] During Butera's three seasons as commissioner, the league had decreased from 14 members in the 2014 season to four for the 2018 season.

Teams

On August 23, 2017, the week of ArenaBowl XXX, multiple sources revealed that the AFL planned to expand to Albany, New York, and Newark, New Jersey, for 2018.[3] The Albany Empire was confirmed October 24, with the team owned by Hearst Communications executive George Randolph Hearst III and sharing non-football management with the Philadelphia Soul.[4]

On November 28, the Cleveland Gladiators announced that they would have to take a two-year leave of absence while their arena, shared with its primary tenant the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, undergoes construction during the basketball offseason.[5] The next month, the longest-tenured AFL team, with franchise roots to the inaugural AFL season, the Tampa Bay Storm, also suspended operations citing higher operating costs combined with lower revenues, but did not rule out returning in the future.[6]

In February 2018, the 2018 season schedule was finalized with only the returning Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington teams and the expansion Albany team, but no Newark team, matching the size of the league in the original "demonstration season" in 1987.

Schedule and playoff changes

The 2018 season consisted of a 13-week schedule during which each team played 12 games and had one bye week. With only four participating members for the season, the schedule for each team decreased by two games, continuing the trend of shortened seasons since the 2015 season. Each of the four teams played each opponent four times. Expansion Albany played seven home games, Baltimore and Washington six, and defending champion Philadelphia had only five.

At the end of the regular season, all teams participated in the ArenaBowl playoffs, in which the top seed faced the 4th seed while the 2nd seed faced the 3rd seed in a home and home series. The team in each series with the highest aggregate score advanced to the ArenaBowl. If the aggregate score in either series had been tied after the second game in the home-and-home semifinals, the game would have continued in the AFL's standard overtime format; this was not necessitated. While the semifinals consisted of two games in each pairing, ArenaBowl XXXI was still only one game.[7]

With one week remaining in the 2018 regular season and a then three-way tie for first, the league announced the ArenaBowl would be hosted by the semifinal winner with the higher average attendance through the season instead of using any tiebreakers or home field advantage based on records.[8] However, once the semifinals were completed, the higher-seeded Baltimore Brigade, not the higher-attended Washington Valor, would host ArenaBowl XXXI as the Valor's home field, Capital One Arena, had already scheduled summer renovations to begin at that time.[9]

Regular season standings

2018 Arena Football League standings
Team Overall Points Records
W L PCT PF PA Home Away GB STK
(#)-Albany Empire 8 4 .667 646 564 4–3 4–1 W3
Baltimore Brigade 7 5 .583 605 562 5–1 2–4 1 L3
Philadelphia Soul 7 5 .583 612 577 3-2 4-3 1 L1
Washington Valor 2 10 .167 482 642 1–5 1–5 6 W1

(#) - clinched regular season title

Playoffs

  Semifinals ArenaBowl XXXI
                         
1 Albany 57* 40 97  
4 Washington 56 47 103  
    4 Washington 69
  2 Baltimore 55
2 Baltimore 57 53 110
3 Philadelphia 45 41 86  
*Indicates overtime victory

Semifinals

All times listed are in EDT.

Date Kickoff Away Score Home Game site Recap
July 14 7:00 p.m. Albany Empire 57–56 (OT) Washington Valor Capital One Arena [1]
July 21 7:30 p.m. Washington Valor 47–40 Albany Empire Times Union Center
July 15 6:00 p.m. Baltimore Brigade 57–45 Philadelphia Soul Wells Fargo Center
July 20 7:00 p.m. Philadelphia Soul 41–53 Baltimore Brigade Royal Farms Arena

ArenaBowl XXXI

Date Kickoff Away Score Home Game site Recap
July 28 7:00 p.m. Washington Valor 69–55 Baltimore Brigade Royal Farms Arena

Awards

All-Arena team

Offense
Position First team Second team
Quarterback Tommy Grady, Albany Randy Hippeard, Baltimore
Fullback Jeramie Richardson, Philadelphia Rory Nixon, Baltimore
Wide receiver Joe Hills, Albany
Malachi Jones, Albany
Darius Prince, Philadelphia
Reggie Gray, Washington
Brandon Thompkins, Baltimore
Aaron Wascha, Philadelphia
Center Ryan Cave, Albany Phillipkeith Manley, Philadelphia
Offensive lineman Hayworth Hicks, Albany
Jordan McCray, Baltimore
Neal Tivis, Philadelphia
Wayne Tribue, Philadelphia
Defense
Position First team Second team
Defensive end Joe Sykes, Albany
Jake Metz, Philadelphia
Darryl Cato-Bishop, Albany
Rodney Fritz, Baltimore
Defensive tackle Justin Lawrence, Baltimore Brandon Sesay, Albany
Middle linebacker Dexter Jackson, Baltimore Derrick Summers, Albany
Jack linebacker Terence Moore, Albany Joe Goosby, Philadelphia
Defensive back Marrio Norman, Albany
James Romain, Philadelphia
Virgil Gray, Baltimore
Dwayne Hollis, Cleveland
Joe Powell, Baltimore
Varmah Sonie, Albany
Special teams
Position First team Second team
Kicker Mark Lewis, Baltimore Adrian Trevino, Philadelphia
Special teams Brandon Thompkins, Baltimore Chris Duvalt, Washington

Source:[10]

Attendances

Team Home average
Albany Empire 9,714
Baltimore Brigade 5,113
Philadelphia Soul 9,454
Washington Valor 6,743
Overall average 7,601

References

  1. ^ "Arena Football League, Arena Football League Players Union Reach Agreement on CBA". ArenaFootball.com. March 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "AFL Announces New Commissioner and Chairman of Executive Committee". OurSportsCentral.com. March 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Soul hosting ArenaBowl XXX on Saturday, Bill Gelman, South Philly Review, August 23, 2017
  4. ^ Skodnick, Leif (October 24, 2017). "It's Official: Arena Football League returning to Times Union Center". Times Union. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  5. ^ "Cleveland Gladiators to take 2-year hiatus during Q renovations". WKYC. November 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "Tampa Bay Storm suspending operations". Tampa Bay Times. December 21, 2017.
  7. ^ "Arena Football League to Kick Off 2018 Season with New Playoff Rules, More Ticket Options for Fans". AFL. February 13, 2018.
  8. ^ "Three Teams Enter the Final Weekend Tied for First". AFL. July 2, 2018.
  9. ^ "Washington Valor, Baltimore Brigade to meet in ArenaBowl XXXI". The Washington Times. July 22, 2018.
  10. ^ "AFL Announces 2018 All-Arena First and Second Teams". AFL. July 17, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "2017 Arena Football League Attendance Chart". arenafan.com. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
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