Islanders have shot
at a bye in playoffs

Hawaii visits Tulsa with
the league's No. 2 seed on the line

The Hawaiian Islanders are looking to add another feat to their growing list of accomplishments today.


Who: Hawaiian Islanders at Tulsa Talons

When: Today, 2:30 p.m. Hawaii time

Where: Tulsa Convention Center

TV: None

Radio: Live on KUMU2, 1500-AM

With a winning record and a berth in the arenafootball2 playoffs already secured, the Islanders will try to become the first visiting team to win a regular-season contest in the Tulsa Convention Center since the 2000 season when they face the Tulsa Talons at 2:30 p.m. Hawaii time.

The Talons enter the game having won their last 25 regular-season games in Tulsa, and the Islanders are prepared for a less than hospitable welcome from the home crowd.

"They're pretty rowdy," Hawaii receiver/defensive back Darrell Jones said. "They're good fans and they support their team very well, but you have to handle the noise factor and the taunting. You have to be strong for that."

Hawaii and Tulsa had byes last week, giving them an extra week to prepare for today's showdown.

The Islanders enter the game at 9-4 and hold a one-game lead over Wichita in the National Conference West Division. They also need a win to sustain their hopes of earning a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the af2 playoffs.

The top two teams in the American and National conferences have a bye to open the playoffs. Quad City enters the week atop the National Conference at 11-2. Tulsa is a game back at 10-3 with Hawaii third at 9-4.

Tulsa can clinch the Central Division championship and a first-round bye with a victory. An Islanders win would boost them into the second seed thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Talons.

"As athletes, I don't think they're thinking too much about the home-field advantage, they're focusing on the game itself," Islanders coach Cal Lee said. "But as coaches, when the time comes and you have a chance to have a bye, it's a huge advantage."

The Islanders can assure themselves of hosting at least one playoff game with a win coupled with an Arkansas loss to Memphis today.

But taking care of their end of the deal will require the Islanders to at least slow down one of the af2's top offenses.

Tulsa routed the Islanders twice last year, 70-42 in Honolulu and 73-48 in Tulsa. The Talons rank fourth in af2 in scoring offense this season with 51.2 points per game and fifth in total offense with 258.4 yards per game.

Tulsa receiver/linebacker Mitch Allner, last year's af2 offensive player of the year, is the league's all-time leading scorer with 610 career points. But his 19 touchdowns rank him second on the team in scoring this season, trailing offensive specialist Tacoma Fontaine's 28 touchdowns.

Quarterback Craig Strickland has completed 58 percent of his throws for 3,154 yards and 68 touchdowns.

The Islanders will try to contain the Talons by giving up short passes while protecting against big plays.

"Our philosophy is to make them throw short stuff and rally to it and make them go on seven, eight-play drives," defensive coordinator Doug Semones said. "Then if you can play good red-zone defense, you've got a shot to get some stops.

"What we need is some pressure from the defensive line. If we can get some pressure on them and make (Strickland) make some throws he doesn't want to or throw the ball early, then we've got a chance to get some turnovers."

The Hawaii offense struggled in the second half of the Islanders' 54-36 loss to Quad City on June 28 and will again be without leading receiver Nian Taylor, who was placed on the injured reserve list with a pulled hamstring.

The Islanders will regain the services of quarterback Darnell Arceneaux, who missed the last five games with a hairline fracture in his right hand. Mike Tillis filled in effectively while Arceneaux was out and Lee said both quarterbacks could see action today.

"It's a good luxury to have," Lee said. "It might be a game-time decision."

The Islanders will face a Tulsa defense that ranks last in the league in total defense and passing defense. The Talons surrender an average of 272 yards per game, 251 through the air.

"We have to keep it close in the first half," Jones said. "You have to play all four quarters against Tulsa because they're not going to stop.

"We might not stop their offense completely, but with a couple stops here and there and if we keep scoring, we're going to be there."

arenafootball2 standings

American Conference
Atlantic Division W L Pct. Str.
Cape Fear 8 5 .615 L3
Norfolk 7 6 .538 W1
Charleston 6 7 .462 L1
Greensboro 6 7 .462 W2
Richmond 5 8 .385 L2

Northeast Division W L Pct. Str.
y-Albany 11 2 .846 W2
Mohegan 9 4 .692 W1
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5 8 .385 L1
Rochester 2 12 .143 L1

South Division W L Pct. Str.
x-Tennessee Valley 13 0 1.000 W13
Florida 8 5 .615 L1
Macon 8 5 .615 W1
Birmingham 7 6 .538 W1
Columbus 3 10 .231 L2

National Conference
Central Division W L Pct. Str.
y-Tulsa 10 3 .769 L1
Arkansas 7 6 .538 L1
Memphis 5 8 .385 L1
Bossier City 3 11 .214 L6

Midwest Division W L Pct. Str
x-Quad City 11 2 .846 W11
Cincinnati 5 8 .385 W1
Peoria 4 9 .308 L2
Louisville 4 10 .286 W1
Green Bay 2 11 .154 L1

West Division W L Pct. Str
y-Hawaii 9 4 .692 L1
Wichita 8 5 .615 L1
Bakersfield 6 7 .462 L1
San Diego 5 8 .385 W1

x-clinched division title
y-clinched playoff berth


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