Avengers Exercise Option on Hodgkiss

The Los Angeles Avengers have exercised an option on coach Ed Hodgkiss’ contract, owner and chief executive officer Casey Wasserman announced on Wednesday (June 21). The move will keep Hodgkiss in place for the 2007 season, his sixth at the helm of the Avengers.

After leading Los Angeles to its first appearance in the Arena Football League playoffs in 2002, Hodgkiss signed a five-year contract extension that included an option in the last year of the deal.

Regarded as one of the brightest offensive coaches in the AFL, Hodgkiss owns an overall record of 43-35, has advanced to the playoffs four times in five seasons and his teams have averaged 54.2 points per game during his tenure.

After guiding the Avengers to their first Western Division championship in 2005, Los Angeles slipped to 5-11 this past season – but developed some exciting rookies, including quarterback Sonny Cumbie.

In his first two years in Los Angeles (2002 and 2003), Hodgkiss directed the Avengers to a 19-11 record. No coach in league history has won more games in his first two seasons than Hodgkiss, who was the runner-up for the AFL Coach of the Year award in both 2003 and 2005.

In 2004, the Avengers went 9-7 and led the AFL in scoring, averaging 56.5 points per game.

While in Los Angeles, Hodgkiss has coached numerous league award winners and record breakers, including wide receiver/defensive back Kevin Ingram (2005 Ironman of the Year); wide receiver/linebacker Greg Hopkins (2002 Ironman of the Year); lineman Silas Demary (2005 Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year); kicker Remy Hamilton (2005 and 2006 Kicker of the Year); offensive specialist Chris Jackson (2003 Offensive Player of the Year with 46 touchdown receptions) and quarterback Tony Graziani (99 touchdown passes in 2004).

Hodgkiss, 35, is the second-youngest head coach in professional football – only Weylan Harding of the AFL’s New York Dragons is younger).

Prior to joining the Avengers, Hodgkiss had been with the Albany/Indiana Firebirds since 1997. He was the team’s offensive coordinator for three seasons (1999-2001) and earned an ArenaBowl championship ring with the Firebirds in 1999.

TAMPA BAY RE-SIGNS LINEMAN: Five-time ArenaBowl champion Tampa Bay has re-signed free agent lineman Thaddeus Bullard to a one-year contract, Storm coach and director of football operations Tim Marcum announced.

Bullard, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound lineman is a four-year veteran of the Arena Football League. Last season, the University of Florida graduate appeared in four games and recorded eight tackles – one for a loss of 1 yard.

“After talking to Coach (Marcum), it was about weighing the positives versus the negatives – and to tell you the truth, there weren’t very many negatives.” Bullard said. “I’m looking forward to next season and helping the Storm to where they should be and that’s in the playoffs and the ArenaBowl.”

The Cape Coral, Fla., native has tallied 53 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loses totaling 30 yards, forcing two fumbles and recovering two in his four-years in the AFL playing for the Carolina Cobras (2003) and the Las Vegas Gladiators (2004-05). He has also spent time with the Greensboro Prowlers and the Florida Firecats of the af2.

Bullard, a highly touted prep star from Suwannee High School, won a national championship with the Gators in 1996. This offseason, Bullard will take to the sideline for Cypress Lake H.S. as an assistant head/linebackers coach.

(Neil Fuller lives in Kansas City, Mo., where he covers the expansion Brigade. He is an active member of the Arena Football League Writers Association.)

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