WEST VALLEY CITY -- Meet the new Blaze. Same as the old Blaze?
After a one-year absence, arena football is back in Utah with a team bearing the name and history of the Blaze in a reconstructed Arena One Football League.
Utah will host the Spokane Shock tonight at 7 p.m. at the E Center, with David Archuleta scheduled to perform at halftime.
Aaron Boone is the lone holdover from the 2008 Blaze. The popular wide receiver is also one of the team's most experienced players, entering his fourth season of arena ball.
While the Blaze are taking the field for the first time, Spokane has already played one game, losing at home to Milwaukee. The Shock won the af2 title last season.
"I think it will make a difference," said Utah coach Ernesto Pumbley." I think we'll have some butterflies and a little anxiety because we have lot of young guys that haven't played yet. Getting alive full-speed look will be new for a lot of people."
Pumbley hasn't name a starting quarterback yet. Mike Affleck, who quarterbacked Utah Valley in the AIFA last season and former San Jose Sabrecat Brett Elliott are the two listed quarterback. On the roster is former Weber State standout Akamu Aki.
Except for a promise that the team will return in 2011, everyone and everything around the Ogden Knights remained tight-lipped the day after the American Indoor Football Association team announced it would be a traveling squad.
Owner William Bennett effectively issued a gag order to Knight players and coaches regarding the situation but stated that "a lot of things are in the works."
"We're planning on coming back next year," Bennett said. "Right now, we're focused on playing the remaining games of our schedule."
Numerous attempts to reach AIFA co-founders John Morris and Michael Mink were unsuccessful Thursday. Coincidentally, the Knights' web site went into maintenance mode Thursday.
Ogden's situation is the first in-season for the fourth-year AIFA, but other leagues had last minute drama prior to kicking off this season:
* The Indoor Football League, which bills itself as "the premier" league -- it is the largest at 25 teams -- had to re-arrange its schedule after it had been released after the El Paso Generals suspended operations.
* The Southern Indoor Football League's Houston Lightning stated it had arena issues, forcing that second-year to rearrange its schedule less than two weeks before kickoff. Traveling teams are being used to fill some of the Lightning's road games.
* The Continental Indoor Football League's Columbus (Ohio) team shifted its home back to Marion (Ohio) days before that league's season began.