SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) – Reigning NET10 Head Coach of the Year Ron James will officially return for his fourth season at the helm. The Utah Blaze announced today that James has agreed to a new two-year deal that ensures he will lead the team through the 2014 season.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this team for the next two seasons,” said James. “We’ve had a lot of success in recent years and we’re going to continue building on that. Our goal remains the same – we want to bring a championship title to Salt Lake City. I’m eager to continue working towards that goal in 2013.”
Since taking over midway through the 2010 season, James has transformed a once abysmal franchise into one of the Arena Football League’s elite. With 23 victories under his belt, he is the all-time winningest head coach in Utah Blaze history.
The Blaze reached new heights in 2012 while enjoying the most successful season in the team’s six-year history. Utah achieved its first postseason berth since 2008 with franchise record of 12 wins during the regular season. In the first round of the postseason, the Blaze earned its first playoff victory by knocking off the top-seeded San Antonio Talons.
Utah set regular season records for passing touchdowns (142), passing yards (5,758), passing first downs (332), pass attempts (753) and pass completions (510), while also breaking franchise marks for sacks (33) and interceptions (17). The Blaze capped off 2012 by reaching the National Conference Championship.
At season’s end, James was honored as the Arena Football League’s NET10 Head Coach of the Year.
“It means everything to this organization to have Ron James leading our team,” said owner Kristin Murdock. “Coach James has done an amazing job of building a foundation of success over the past three seasons. I’m confident this franchise will continue to prosper under his guidance.”
As a coach in the Arena Football League, James’ career spans more than two decades. He originally entered the League with the Albany Firebirds, where he coached for two seasons (1990-91). James later coached the Houston ThunderBears (1999-2001) and Las Vegas Gladiators (2002-06) before joining the Blaze in 2007.
Offensive Coordinator Matthew Sauk will also be back with the Blaze, as the team announced he has signed a contract for the 2013 season. In each of his first two campaigns in Utah, Sauk was named the AFL’s NET10 Assistant Coach of the Year after helping to produce the League’s top-ranked passing offense in consecutive seasons.