SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) – The Utah Blaze (11-5) may not have played in a game today, but the franchise still received word that it has clinched its first postseason berth since the Arena Football League reformed in 2010. With two games remaining on the schedule, the Blaze is still in contention for the West Division crown.
“So far, the season has been very solid,” said President & Head Coach Ron James. “We’re moving in the right direction and we’re excited that we’ve qualified for the playoffs. But we still have goals ahead of us and two games left to play.”
Utah officially earned a trip to the playoffs when the Chicago Rush (9-7) dropped a 61-54 decision to the San Antonio Talons (13-3) this afternoon. Utah owns the tiebreaker over Chicago, as the Blaze defeated the Rush in Week 14 by a final score of 68-28. Utah previously reached the postseason in each of its first three seasons in the Arena Football League (2006-08).
Despite having two weeks remaining on the regular season schedule, the field of National Conference playoff contenders has been solidified. Seeding is still to be determined, but the Blaze will compete with the San Antonio Talons, Arizona Rattlers (12-4) and San Jose SaberCats (11-6) for a chance to represent the National Conference in ArenaBowl XXV.
The Blaze returns to the field this week to take on the Cleveland Gladiators (7-9) at home before finishing the regular season on the road against the Philadelphia Soul (13-3). If Utah wins those final two contests, one loss by the Arizona Rattlers will also seize the West Division title for the Blaze. Arizona travels to San Antonio next Friday, and wraps up its season at home against the Kansas City Command (3-13).
“Our goals remain the same as they did in the preseason,” said James. “We want to win the division and we want to win an ArenaBowl title. Both of those opportunities are still in front of us, but we’ve got to win this week to keep our chances of winning the division alive.”
The Utah Blaze versus the Cleveland Gladiators will air live on NFL Network from Tim Dahle Field at EnergySolutions Arena this Friday, July 13th. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM MT.