SPOKANE, Wash. -- With just a trio of Arena Football League games remaining in the 2011 season, the Utah Blaze find themselves squarely in the playoff hunt.
Which means they'll need reinforcements.
Utah plays at Spokane this evening in the first outdoor regular season game in AFL history, a 7 p.m. matchup at Joe Albi Stadium.
Utah is 7-8, as is Spokane, and the winner will keep its Western Division playoff hopes alive.
Utah announced Thursday the signings of QBs Todd Hammel and EJ Nemeth, and FB/LB Brenton Brady to the 2011 roster.
"We are fortunate at this point of the season to be able to sign two quality quarterbacks. Having a signal caller like Todd Hammel with his vast experiences is helpful to fill the void under center," said coach Ron James. "We also feel that the indoor experience that EJ Nemeth brings will contribute greatly to our offense."
The moves were necessitated when standout QB Tommy Grady was injured against the Chicago Rush last week. Grady was placed on the injured reserve list, while WR Ernie Pierce was placed on the other league exempt List.
Hammel (6-2, 220, Stephens F. Austin) is a 17-year AFL veteran and has most recently played with the Chicago Rush and Jacksonville Sharks in 2010. He has played for 10 teams since his AFL career began in 1992.
Nemeth (6-4, 245, Sacred Heart) joins the Blaze after guiding the Trenton Steel of the Southern Indoor Football League to an 8-4 record this past 2011 season.
Early in the season, the Blaze held off the defending ArenaBowl XXIII champion Shock 69-62 in a game that came down to the final play at EnergySolutions Arena.
Ironically, Grady and Pierce hooked up on the final TD of the game.
Utah's backup QB Jordan Rasmussen (6-5, 225, Pacific Lutheran) took over the helm after Grady suffered an injury late in the second quarter against Chicago, completing 11-of-21 passes for 117 yards and one touchdown.
The Shock came up with the proposal to transform Albi Stadium into an arena football field, and gor AFL approval.
The field will be the same length, width, markings, and indoor turf all in the middle of a bigger venue, organizers said.