SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Blaze (6-4) will look to avenge an early-season loss this Saturday when they go head-to-head with the San Antonio Talons (7-3) at EnergySolutions Arena.
The two teams previously squared off in Week One when the Talons narrowly emerged with a 54-48 win.
The Blaze is looking to bounce back after suffering an 86-70 loss in an interdivisional contest with the Arizona Rattlers last weekend. The Talons are currently riding a four game winning streak after knocking off the San Jose SaberCats, 72-47.
The matchup will play a crucial role in deciding who earns a playoff berth, as both teams continue to jockey for position in the race for the postseason.
Six days after surrendering 86 points to the Rattlers, the Blaze decided to make a coaching change. Blaze coach Ron James announced Thursday that the franchise has hired former Spokane Shock head coach Rob Keefe to serve as the team's new defensive coordinator.
"Making a change on the coaching staff is difficult at any juncture of the season," said James. We are fortunate that a coach of Rob Keefe's caliber was available and we are confident that he can help us make the necessary adjustments to enable us to play a better brand of defense for the remainder of the season."
Keefe is the youngest head coach in AFL history to win a championship and the only player to win titles in both the AFL and af2. His coaching career began in 2009 with the Spokane Shock, where he helped the team secure an af2 Championship. After being promoted to head coach in 2010, Keefe directed Spokane to its only AFL Championship, as the franchise defeated the Tampa Bay Storm in ArenaBowl XXIII.
The Blaze also announced they have been assigned versatile OL Lauvale Sape. Sape brings two years of Arena Football experience and previously played with the Blaze under James during the 2010 season.
After a standout career as a defensive tackle at the University of Utah, Sape was selected in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, where he played for three seasons. In 2007, he enjoyed stints with the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans, as well as the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe.
Utah also gets veteran DB William Mulder back in the lineup after a four-week stint on injured reserve. Utah's first task will be stopping veteran Arena Football QB Aaron Garcia, who has thrown for 2,677 yards and 64 touchdowns this season.