SALT LAKE CITY -- The red-hot Utah Blaze get a major test this weekend as they host rival Arizona in their 2013 Arena Football League home opener on Friday at EnergySolutions Arena.
Through the years, the Rattlers have proven to be the Blaze's biggest nemesis, no more so than last July in the AFL National Conference Championship. The two teams battled blow for blow for a spot in ArenaBowl before coach Ron James' Utah squad was eliminated.
Both squads won their season openers. Utah demolished the Pittsburgh Power 64-33 on the road, showing off their strong offensive attack behind quarterback Tommy Grady, and matching it with a defense that nearly shut out the Power in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Rattlers defeated the Philadelphia Soul 66-2 in a rematch of last season's ArenaBowl.
Utah's defense, led by defensive backs Davis Hyland and Maurice Leggett and linebacker Antwan March, will be tested by Arizona quarterback Nick Davila and his offensive attack.
Look for the Blaze to up the pressure on Davila with a strong pass rush on their home turf.
Grady and receivers Aaron Lesue, Mario Urrutia and company had an efficient start to the season at Pittsburgh, but with the game well in hand, likely kept a few wrinkles under wraps for this week.
A key will be for Grady to limit turnovers; a year ago he passed for more than 1,000 yards in three games against the Rattlers, but also tossed seven interceptions.