Arena football: Utah Blaze find familiar foe in Spokane Shock
If there's a time for sentimentality, this week isn't it.
Offensive coordinator Matt Sauk helped Spokane win a championship in 2010. He interviewed for a head coaching job there this past offseason. There are plenty of memories he's left with the Shock.
So when they come to town to face the Utah Blaze on Friday night, Sauk and a number of former Spokane players won't have any trouble picking sides.
"It's always a little personal to play your former team," Sauk says. "But all that history, it doesn't matter. We want to win."
Actually, history might play at least a bit of a role in this blooming rivalry between two teams in the same division. Most notably, Spokane was the team that ended Utah's playoff hopes last season with a 76-49 blowout in the second-to-last game of the year.
Even a guy such as Antwan Marsh, a linebacker who flew in this week, is eager.
"There's an outgoing group of guys here, so it's easy to fit in," Marsh said. "I love that my first game back I'm playing my old team. It was a good time in 2010, but I've moved on."
At the moment, the Blaze are a step ahead of the Shock, sporting a 5-2 record to Spokane's 3-3. But the Blaze are aware that hitting a slump this week could change the franchise's fortunes quickly as Utah prepares for three straight games against division opponents.
The injury situation has deteriorated further this week, as receiver Alvance Robinson will sit out, and five others are on injured reserve. But with quarterback Tommy Grady and wideout Aaron Lesue still healthy and a few backups plugged in, Sauk expects his offense to continue as the top passing team in the league.
"I'll never expect a lower standard these guys will have to do exactly what they've been doing," he says. "We're just asking our guys who are still there to stay consistent."
Spokane at Utah
P Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • KMYU