Lee says Islanders’
The coach likes having two
quarterbacks who could start tonight
Bakersfield at Islanders
When: Today, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Blaisdell Arena
Radio: Live, KUMU2 1500-AM
Tickets: Lower Bowl reserved $25, upper bowl sideline (reserved) $15, upper bowl end zone (general admission) $10; Youth (17 and below) $7, Handicap $10. Parking, $5
Promotions: All general admission tickets are half price at the Blaisdell box office ... the first 1,000 fans receive a free hot dog and soda ... the first 500 fans receive $10 Dave and Busters Power Cards and discount coupons to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park ... Meadow Gold Dairies Family FANfest starts at 4:30 p.m.
With two proven signal callers battling for the starting job, Hawaiian Islanders coach Cal Lee views the situation as a quarterback luxury rather than a controversy.
"When you have two guys who are in there like that, that's beautiful," Lee said. "It could be a blessing having two guys who can go in there and do the job."
Darnell Arceneaux is back from a trip to American Samoa and Shawn Withy-Allen is fresh off a rousing road win, giving Lee much to consider heading into the Islanders' showdown with the Bakersfield Blitz tonight at Blaisdell Arena.
Withy-Allen and Arceneaux split the repetitions in practice this week and even after Thursday's practice they hadn't a clue who would get the start in the battle for first place in arenafootball2's West Division.
"We're going to surprise Bakersfield," Arceneaux said. "We might even switch off every play. We don't even know yet."
The Islanders enter tonight's game at 7-5, a game behind Bakersfield (8-4) in the West Division. An Islanders (7-5) win tonight would create a tie for the lead. A loss would drop them two games back with three left to play.
The Islanders cozied up to Bakersfield in the standings with a 40-37 win over the San Diego Riptide last week. Withy-Allen, making his first start for the Islanders, shook off two early interceptions to rally the Islanders to the win.
He completed 20 of 33 attempts and tossed the winning touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the game.
"It was a great chance to learn," Withy-Allen said. "The confidence was there, but now I got my feet wet. I know what to expect every time I get the ball, how fast it should come out, different things the defense will try to bait me on. I feel even better this week."
Arceneaux spent this week getting back in rhythm with the Islanders receivers after two weeks away from practice. The Islanders had a bye two weeks ago and Arceneaux flew to American Samoa last week to coach in a youth clinic.
Although he started the first 11 games of the season, Arceneaux understands having to compete for the job again.
"Coach Lee's philosophy is you've got to come in and earn your spot every week," Arceneaux said. "His motto is you're penciled in, but on the other side of the pencil is an eraser. Your butt can get erased quick, so you've got to come and practice every day.
"We've been competing for the longest time, so it's nothing new to us."
Arceneaux knows what it's like to be in Lee's situation. As head coach at Saint Louis School last fall, Arceneaux had two quarterbacks -- Kealii Perbera and Stanley Nihipali -- battling for the position early in the season before Perbera eventually emerged as the starter.
"You look at any championship team, they've got two solid quarterbacks," he said. "You look at a good squad like New England a few years ago with Tom Brady and (Drew) Bledsoe. ... That's what this team needs."
Coming and going: With Arceneaux's return, Aaron Smith moves back to receiver/linebacker after backing up Withy-Allen at quarterback last week.
The Islanders activated lineman Evile Puna and released Johnny Wayfer (WR/LB) and Macquade Afaese (line) this week. Linemen Joe Correia and Tiki Sagapolutele, who missed last week's game, are also available for tonight's contest.
Although the Islanders got some healthy bodies back, they aren't quite at full strength yet. Keiki Misipeka (leg), Antoine Simpson (concussion), Nate Jackson (shoulder) and Robert Kemfort (concussion) are still on the mend.