SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) – The Utah Blaze coaching staff came away with two postseason honors, the Arena Football League announced today. Blaze Head Coach Ron James was named NET10 Head Coach of the Year, while Offensive Coordinator Matt Sauk earned NET10 Assistant Coach of the Year honors.
When the Utah Blaze remerged in 2010 under the newly reformed Arena Football League, the club endured an abysmal season in which it posted a League-worst 2-14 overall record. Ron James took the reins midway through the year, and has since transformed the franchise into a serious contender.
Under James’ leadership, the Blaze turned in its first winning season in 2012 with a franchise record of 12 regular season wins. Utah achieved its first postseason berth since 2008 and earned its first playoff victory by knocking off the top-seeded San Antonio Talons in the quarterfinals round. The Blaze capped off the most successful season in team history by reaching the National Conference Championship game. Coach James also became the winningest coach in franchise history, surpassing former Head Coach Danny White (21 wins) with 23 victories.
“I am pleased to accept the award of Head Coach of the Year for our franchise, my players, our coaching staff and our great fans,” said James. “Without the support of the best ownership in the league, none of this is possible. We are pleased with the improvements we have made as a football team in 2012 and will continue to strive to be the best organization in the AFL in 2013, both on and off the field.”
Known for his offensive prowess, Matthew Sauk receives Assistant Coach of the Year accolades for the second-consecutive season after helping to produce the AFL’s top-ranked passing attack for the second time in as many years. Utah averaged a stunning 319.9 aerial yards per game while setting new League records for passing yards (5,758), touchdowns (142) and first downs (332).
Sauk also directed Blaze QB Tommy Grady to a historical season in which the signal caller shattered AFL records for passing yards (5,870), touchdowns (142), completions (507) and attempts (743). Utah’s offense turned out three receivers with over 1,000 yards in Aaron Lesué, Tysson Poots and Alvance Robinson. Lesué and Poots each registered over 100 receptions on the year.
“I would really like to thank the Blaze organization for doing things the right way,” said Sauk. “To win this award means we have a great group of players on offense. Without those guys, this would not be possible.”
“I would like to thank all of our fans and corporate partners for their support in a record breaking season for our franchise,” James continued. “We will begin working towards the 2013 season immediately and I am confident in our ability to take the next step toward an AFL championship in the upcoming year.”