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Arizona Rattlers Ready For Saturday's AFL National Conference Championship

This Saturday, the Arizona Rattlers host the Utah Blaze at the US Airways Center for the Arena Football League National Conference title and a spot in ArenaBowl XXV, which will take place in New Orleans Aug. 10.

The game should be entertaining. The teams split the two games they played against each other, the Rattlers by an 86-70 count and the Blaze 62-49 in the return game.

The Rattlers, as the higher seed in the AFL playoffs, earned the right to host the conference championship, and coach Kevin Guy said any advantage will help. Both teams know each other well.

"On offense it starts with the (pass) protection," Guy said Wednesday. "We need to have clean pockets for (quarterback) Nick (Davila) to throw. We need to execute. If we do that, then I like our chances."

The Blaze might have a few new wrinkles, but the Rattlers are very familiar with their schemes.

"We know the personnel, so it comes down to technique and fundamentals," Guy said.

Special teams could play a major role in the outcome. Guy estimates there are 40 to 50 special teams snaps in a game, be they point-afters, punts, kickoffs, field-goal tries and returns.

The Rattlers are hoping for redemption after losing last year's Arena Bowl at the US Airways Center in the final seconds.

"I just think we've got to look at it as a learning experience," Guy said. "We have to use that to build on what we have."

When the Blaze and Rattlers played for the first time, Guy said the Utah defense didn't play well, as seen in the Rattlers' point total that night. But Utah upgraded its personnel and made a coaching change at defensive coordinator, bringing in Rob Keefe. That had a very positive effect on the Blaze's performance thereafter.

The game is at 7 p.m. and tickets are as low as $11.