Commentary

San Jose is the class of the West, looks to repeat as AFL champion

Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton says the San Jose Sabercats look like the class of the AFL's Western Division in 2008.

Originally Published: February 21, 2008
By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.

The Western Division promises to be very competitive but looks like a two-team race with the defending AFL champion San Jose SaberCats leading the way followed closely by improved Los Angeles. Utah is improved on defense, but without WR Siaha Burley, it will take a step back on offense. Arizona has 30 new faces as it remakes its roster without long time QB Sherdrick Bonner and that is just too much change to be a legitimate playoff contender, which could mean that Rattlers season-ticket holders will get total refunds at the end of the season since Arizona made a preseason promise that it was playoffs or it was free.

San Jose is deep and confident with loads of experience and they don't play very many bad games. Los Angeles, on the other hand, can look like a world-beater one week and then play down to the level of their competition the following week. But if the Avengers play with more consistency and QB Sonny Cumbie gets hot, they could make things interesting. It will be tough though because San Jose looks like a team capable of becoming the first repeat champs since the 1995-96 Tampa Bay Storm.

Projected Standings

1. San Jose SaberCats -- 13-3
2. Los Angeles Avengers -- 10-6
3. Utah Blaze -- 7-9
4. Arizona Rattlers -- 6-10

Team previews

Arizona Rattlers
Los Angeles Avengers
San Jose SaberCats
Utah Blaze

Projected 2008 Western Division award winners

Organization of Year -- Los Angeles Avengers

Coach of Year -- Darren Arbet, San Jose

Western Division MVP -- QB Mark Grieb, San Jose

Rookie of Year -- WR Joshua Richey, San Jose

Newcomer of Year -- K David Davis, Los Angeles

Offensive Lineman of Year -- Devin Wyman, Utah

Quarterback of Year -- Mark Grieb, San Jose

Receiver of Year -- Siaha Burley, Arizona

Ironman of the Year -- FB/LB Lonnie Ford, Los Angeles

Defensive Back of Year -- Clevan Thomas, San Jose

Defensive Lineman of Year -- Ron Jones, San Jose

Linebacker of Year -- Josh Jeffries, Los Angeles

Assistant Coach of the Year -- Skip Foster, offensive coordinator, Arizona

Kicker of the Year -- A.J. Haglund, San Jose

Return Specialist of the Year -- Timon Marshall, Los Angeles

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.