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Spokane Shock will encounter familiar faces against Utah

Every Arena Football League game involving Spokane seemingly presents a Shock vs. ex-Shock angle, whether it’s players or coaches. Tonight, it’s both.

Spokane returns from a bye week to face Utah, which has four former Spokane players and ex-Shock offensive coordinator Matt Sauk, at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Spokane will face an Arizona squad with five former Shock players twice later this season.

The Shock (1-3) trail third-place Utah (2-2) in the four-team West Division.

“By the end of the year we were very close,” Spokane quarterback Kyle Rowley said of Sauk, who called the plays as the Shock captured the ArenaBowl last season. “We bumped heads a little bit, but I have the utmost respect for him. The goal is to win a championship and we found a formula to do that.”

Sauk left the Shock shortly after the season ended to become Utah’s offensive coordinator. The move reunited him full time with his wife and two daughters in Utah.

“It’d be different if we were making millions of dollars, but that was an easy decision,” Shock coach Rob Keefe said. “Matt’s an offensive nerd, and that’s a great thing. Same thing with (new Shock offensive coordinator Andy) Olson. They’re guys that would rather be watching film and drawing X’s and O’s. If it was math or English, people would say, ‘You’re such a geek,’ but he’s just a student of the game.”

Utah’s defense includes ex-Shock players Caesar Rayford, Al Phillips and William Mulder. Phillips and Mulder have combined for five interceptions. Rayford has two tackles for loss. Erik Meyer (Eastern Washington), who backed up Rowley last season, is in a similar role behind Blaze starter Tommy Grady, but Keefe said he wouldn’t be surprised if Meyer plays tonight.

“The ‘Pig’ offense, it was designed 20 years ago, and a lot of guys come from that tree – (ex-Shock head coach Adam) Shackleford, Sauk, Andy,” Keefe said. “It’s all the same stuff, it’s just a matter of who does it better and who can stop who.”

No live TV

Today’s game will not be broadcast on live television because the 6 p.m. contest conflicts with the nationally televised AFL game on NFL Network, which has an exclusivity agreement with the league. The game will be shown on KSKN 22 at 1 p.m. Sunday. It will be broadcast live on 700-AM.

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