08/02/2013 12:01 PM
Photo by Cleveland Gladiators / John Saraya
At the conclusion of the 2013 regular season, the Cleveland Gladiators (4-14) ranked second in the league in rushing offense, averaging 31.5 rushing yards per game. Cleveland also ranked second in the league in total rushing yards with 567. Cleveland’s 567 rushing yards came on 131 attempts, ranking them first in the league in average yards per carry with 4.3. The Gladiators offensive line was led by OL CJ Cobb, who started in 11 of his 12 games played this season. He recorded two solo tackles on the season. OL Kitt O’Brien, who was assigned to Cleveland’s roster on May 29, started in all five of his appearances this season.
WR Dominick Goodman led Cleveland in receptions (147) and scoring (27 TDs, 152 points) in his 17 games played for the Gladiators this season. He finished out the regular season ranking fourth in the league in receptions per game, averaging 8.7 catches per matchup. He ranked tenth in the AFL in kick return average, with an average of 18.0 yards per return. Goodman broke his own single-game franchise mark for receptions by recording 18 against the Iowa Barnstormers in Week 12, resulting in 131 yards and a touchdown. He also set another franchise record that same night when he collected 20 yards on a missed field goal return, besting the previous team-high of 15. Goodman won a team-high four AFL Weekly Awards this season: J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week for Weeks 3 and 12 and Cutters Catch of the Week for Weeks 7 and 14, when he reeled in an over-the-board touchdown reception for 17 yards and 10 yards, respectively.
WR Thyron Lewis, who played his third season with the Gladiators in 2013, appeared in all 18 games this season and registered 97 catches for 1,430 yards and 26 touchdowns. He finished the season averaging 79.4 receiving yards per game, the highest on the team, and also led Cleveland in average yards per catch with 14.7 per reception. Lewis tied with fellow WR Carlese Franklin for the longest reception this season. Both reeled in a 47-yard catch; Franklin nabbed his June 15 at Orlando and Lewis pulled it in for a big score on July 20 versus Orlando. Franklin, whose first appearance for Cleveland this season came on May 18 versus San Antonio, notched 54 catches for 663 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games played, and also tallied one rushing touchdown. After taking over as Cleveland’s go-to kick returner, Franklin returned 46 kicks for 841 yards and one touchdown, the only kick return score for the Gladiators this season. He finished the regular season ranking ninth in the league in kick return average, with an average of 18.3 yards per return. Franklin collected 1,549 total yards in his 10 games played for an average of 154.9 per matchup, ranking him sixth in the AFL in average all-purpose yards per game.
QB Chris Dieker saw action at quarterback for the first time when he replaced QB Brian Zbydniewski in the second quarter of Cleveland’s home matchup versus Chicago on May 11, eventually leading the Gladiators to their first win of the season. Dieker assumed the role of starting QB the next week versus San Antonio; however, he was injured in the first quarter and did not start again until June 1st against New Orleans. In 13 games played this season for Cleveland, Dieker threw for 2,433 yards and 43 touchdowns in completing 225 of 353 attempted passes, averaging 187.2 passing yards per game. He also ran the ball 61 times for 267 net yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, leading Cleveland in carries, yards and rushing touchdowns. Dieker finished out the season ranking third in the league in average rushing yards per game with 20.5 per matchup. He earned league honors in Week 18, when he was named the AFL’s Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week and the AFL MVP of the Week, as voted on by the fans. That week, in Cleveland’s home victory over Orlando, Dieker tied his season and career-high eight touchdowns, which he also recorded July 6 versus Pittsburgh (five passing, three rushing) and June 29 versus Philadelphia (five passing, three rushing). He completed 24 of 41 passes for 273 yards and six touchdowns in the victory.
DB LaRoche Jackson led all Cleveland defenders this season with 75 solo and 20 assisted tackles (85.0 total), including 2.5 tackles for a loss of 4 yards, in his 14 games played this season. He also led the Gladiators in fumbles recovered, having notched four on the season. Jackson notched a single-game team-high 11 tackles against the Philadelphia Soul on June 29. Jackson finished the season a solid fourth in the league in average tackles per game, with 6.1 per matchup. He also ranked fourth in the league in average fumbles recovered per game with 0.3. Jackson earned league recognition when he was nominated for AFL MVP of the Week for his performance during Week 14. In Cleveland’s loss to Jacksonville that week, LJ notched three interceptions for 41 yards, one of which he returned for a 32-yard touchdown. In the game, Jackson also notched four solo and six assisted tackles (7.0 total), including 0.5 tackles for a loss of one yard, a forced fumble that he subsequently recovered and one pass break-up.
DB Marrio Norman finished the season leading the Gladiators in interceptions, with seven for 70 total yards on the season, including one for a 54-yard pick six, in just 12 games played. Norman recorded 41 solo and 17 assisted tackles (49.5 total), including 1.5 tackles for a loss of two yards. He led all Cleveland defenders in pass break-ups with 11 on the season, and recovered one fumble for nine yards. DB Lenny Wicks finished second on the team in tackles, recording 56 solo and 18 assisted for a total of 65.0 tackles in his 12 games played this season. Wicks also tallied nine pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, two interceptions for 20 yards total and one fumble recovered for a two-yard touchdown. He finished the season ranking 11th amongst all AFL defenders in average tackles per game with 5.4 per matchup. Wicks was awarded the league’s Cutters Catch of the Week in Week 6 for his over-the-wall interception to end the first half in Cleveland's 57-40 loss to the Utah Blaze.
DL Kris Cooke and DL Randy Colling finished the season tied for first on the team in sacks. Cooke had four sacks for 21 yards; Colling had the same amount for 14 yards. Cooke notched 13 solo and 14 assisted tackles (20.0 total) in 14 games played for Cleveland this season, including 3.5 tackles for a loss of 21 yards. He also registered one pass break-up and a forced fumble. In 16 games played this season, his first in the AFL, Colling tallied 17 solo and 12 assisted tackles (23.0 total), including a team-high five tackles for a loss of 24 yards total. He also recorded three forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.
2012-13 Season Photo Highlights:
2012-13 Season Highlights Video: