Utah Blaze try to tame SaberCats

Published: Thursday, April 7 2011 11:05 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — When thinking about the elite teams in Arena Football, it's awfully hard not to include the San Jose SaberCats.

Since the franchise's inception in 1995, the SaberCats have garnished three league championships and eight division titles.

San Jose's coach, Darren Arbet, is the epitome of success in the AFL with a career record of 111-47 in his 11-year tenure with the team.

With all this being said, the Utah Blaze (2-1) have a chance to make a bold statement to the rest of the league — or, in turn, be served a tall, frosty glass of reality — all in one game tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

"San Jose has had our number for years; we've got to go get a win there," said Blaze receiver Aaron Boone after defeating Dallas 69-40 last week.

The Blaze trail the overall series with San Jose, 5-1, with their only win coming in 2006.

In Utah's first road game this year, the Blaze had an abysmal showing with five turnovers, yet only lost by a mere 15 points.

"Our first goal is to protect (our) house; we want to win every home game. With that being said, we got to win some games on the road," Boone said. "We don't want to be a .500 team. We got to find a way to win, and what better test than this week. It's a division game — we've got a big test ahead of us."

In order for Utah to walk away victorious and keep pace with undefeated Arizona for the division lead, its ball-hawking secondary needs to step up.

Utah's Labrose Hedgemon, Alfred Phillips, William Mulder and Brandon Taylor have combined for 49.5 tackles, six interceptions and six forced fumbles in three games in the defensive backfield.

"Every game we play, we have different people making plays. All those guys kind of take their turn going after the ball," Utah coach Ron James said of the secondary. "One of things I love about our defense is they hustle on every play. They continue to get better every week."

The secondary will have the task of stopping the deadly San Jose tandem of quarterback Mark Grieb and wideout Nichiren Flowers.

Grieb, a two-time ArenaBowl MVP, ranks among the all-time leaders statistically in league history after 11 seasons with the SaberCats. Last season, he made a mockery of Utah's defense, completing 27-of-39 passes for 283 yards and nine touchdowns.

Flowers has already hauled in 10 touchdown passes and 25 receptions this season.

Blaze on the air

Utah Blaze (2-1) at San Jose SaberCats (2-2)

Tonight, 8:30 p.m.

HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif.

TV: none Radio: 1280 AM

Email: tphibbs@desnews.com

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