Slowly but surely, the Utah Blaze are starting to resemble a real, live sports team.
They've got logos, a schedule and an ever-growing roster. Thursday, Blaze officials introduced the team's mascot — a firefighting dalmatian.
"We are excited about what this mascot represents and the opportunity to get involved in the community," Blaze president Jason Jones said in a press release. "Our mascot will not only help cheer on our team to victory, but will also be an integral part of the community through school visits and community activities."
The team is holding a contest to name the mascot. Entries can be submitted at utahblaze.com and the winning entry will earn its submitter a prize package including game tickets, an autographed jersey and an autographed football.
New quarterback signed: Blaze coach Danny White continues to sign players to the roster. The latest signee is former Washington State and New Mexico quarterback Tali Ena.
Ena played sparingly during his time in college and spent a few games with the NIFL's Tri-Cities Fever last season. He did, however, catch White's eye during the team's tryouts last month.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder is the brother of former BYU linebacker Justin Ena.
Ena was signed along with former William-Penn linebacker A.J. Novak — also a participant in Utah's open tryouts.
The Blaze now have 34 players under contract, which is the maximum allowed under AFL rules as teams head into training camp. But with only two quarterbacks on the roster (former Ohio State grad Joe Germaine is the other), Utah likely will need to sign at least two more. If that happens, the Blaze will be forced to release some players.
MINI-CAMP COMING UP: With it's early roster now mostly complete, the Blaze will focus on preparing for a mini-camp in December.
White said the team will begin teaching the playbook and trimming players from the roster.
AFL teams are allowed to have only 24 players on the roster once the season starts in late January and only 20 of those can be on the active roster.
Utah's first game is scheduled for Jan. 28 at San Jose with the home opener in the Delta Center against the Dallas Desperados on Feb. 4.