WEST VALLEY CITY — The Utah Blaze, which will open their first Arena Football 1 season in April, have announced the signings of several local football players to their roster and will hold open tryouts on Saturday in Provo.
The players who will join the Blaze for their inaugural season include Arena Football League veteran Aaron Bone, American Indoor Football Association standouts Mike Affleck, Akamu Aki and Scott Thomsen, former University of Utah standouts Jason Boone and Derek Richards and former Utah State standout Brian Soi.
Aaron Boone, a wide receiver, prepped at Millard High School in Fillmore, Utah, and played collegiately at Snow Junior College and the University of Kentucky. He also played briefly in the NFL and NFL Europe. Most recently, Boone played for the AFL's Utah Blaze and recorded more than 1,500 receiving yards in 2008.
Affleck, a quarterback, prepped at Timpview High School in Provo and finished up his collegiate career at Utah State. Last year he guided the Utah Valley Thunder of the AIFA to an 11-4 record and a berth in the playoffs. He led the AIFA in passing efficiency at 109.6. He was second in the league in passing yards (3,037) and was third in touchdown passes (58). He also rushed for 15 touchdowns.
Aki, a wide receiver, played collegiately at Weber State University before becoming one of the top receivers for the Utah Valley Thunder in 2009. He led the team in TD catches (30), receptions (86) and yards (1,046). His 86 catches were third-best in the AIFA and his 30 TD catches ranked second.
Thomsen, a kicker, played collegiately at Northeastern State prior to becoming a member of the Utah Valley Thunder last year. Thomsen kicked 54 extra-points and six field goals. He kicked a 38-yard field goal with one second in regulation to send the game into overtime against the Ogden Knights. His extra-point later proved to be the game-winner in a 70-69 win.
Jason Boone, an offensive lineman, also prepped at Millard High School and is the younger brother of Aaron Boone. He was an honorable mention all-Mountain West Conference offensive lineman while playing for the University of Utah. He played in 35 games in his career with the Utes.
Richards, a wide receiver, prepped at American Fork High School in American Fork before he playing collegiately at the University of Utah. While at Utah, he was an honorable mention all-Mountain West Conference selection in 2006. He finished his career with the Utes with 135 catches for 1,644 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Soi, a defensive lineman, prepped at Timpview High School and played collegiately at Utah State before gaining experience with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders.
Blaze head coach Ernesto Prunsley is holding open tryouts on Saturday at BYU's practice facility located at 1060 N. 150 E. in Provo.
Registration and check-in will begin at 6 a.m., with drills beginning promptly at 7 a.m. and continuing until approximately 10 a.m.
Participants can pre-register (credit cards only) by calling 801-331-7096 ext. 1 at the cost of $50. Registration at the door is $60 (cash only). Credit cards will not be accepted on the day of the tryout.
All positions will be evaluated in timed agility drills and position-specific drills on a field turf surface. Players are responsible to bring appropriate shoes and shorts or sweats and a T-shirt. No pads or helmets are required.
All participants will be required to sign a waiver and eligibility form before they can participate in the tryout.
For more information on the tryout contact 801-331-7096 ext. 1.
Inaugural season at home vs. Spokane
The Blaze will open their inaugural Arena Football 1 season on Friday, April 9, when they host the 2009 Af2 champion Spokane Shock at 7 p.m. at the E- Center.
Utah's game with the Shock is the first of eight home games and the first of back-to-back home games to open the season.
"We have a favorable home schedule to open the season and playing in front of our fans will give us the energy to start off out first season on a successful note," Purnsley said. "We are facing a formidable opponent in the Shock, who lost just one game last season in the Af2."
Dotting the Blaze's home schedule are dates with former AFL teams Arizona (May 28 and July 16), at Cleveland (June 6), Chicago (June 11), Tampa Bay (June 19) and at Dallas (July 23).
The Blaze play a total of eight road games, including the last three games of the year at Arizona, Dallas and Alabama. The Blaze will have byes in Week 1, 6 and 8.
Season tickets and individual game tickets are now on sale by calling 801-331-7096.
Purnsley, who has 10 years of Arena Football League experience, spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Colorado Crush before being hired as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Rush in 2008.
Prior to coaching in Colorado, Purnsley was the special teams coach and fullbacks and linebackers coach on two separate occasions for the Albany Firebirds (1997-98) and Indiana Firebirds (2000-03).