[ ARENA FOOTBALL 2 ]
open camp with
The arenafootball2 team has five
capable QBs vying for a starting
spot as training camp opens
Finding quarterbacks was one thing. Now Hawaiian Islanders coach Cal Lee has to sort them out and decide on a starter.
The arenafootball2 defending West Division champions open camp tonight at Aloha Stadium. Their third season begins March 27 at Fresno. On top of Lee's to-do list is paring five quarterback hopefuls down to a workable number.
The second-year coach said there is no one with an edge going in, not even incumbent Darnell Arceneaux, who led the Islanders to an 11-7 record in 2003.
Arceneaux thought seriously about quitting after last season because of injuries and other commitments, including being the head coach at Saint Louis School. But he decided to give it another go and has signed a contract for this year.
The other candidates are last year's backup, Mike Tillis, Kalaheo and University of Hawaii alumnus Shawn Withy-Allen, former Iolani and Montana standout Brian Ah Yat, and ex-Wagner College star Aaron Smith.
"They all start off even," Lee said. "We're going to have to eliminate some and cut down the number. It's a problem, but it's a good number. The first thing we have to do is find out who is No. 1 and go from there."
Ah Yat, who grew up with Arceneaux in Kalama Valley, said he looks forward to competing for the position.
"Hawaii's a small place, and we've all gotten to know each other through working out or whatever," said Ah Yat, who has played in the Canadian and Arena leagues and now works for a local communications company. "I'm looking forward to playing in front of family and friends since I haven't done that very much."
Lee also has to replace hard-charging fullback Josh White, who was promoted to the AFL New York Dragons. Candidates include former UH backs Keiki Misipeka and Jonathan Kauka, as well as Marc Riley, who started at Maryland. Vai Natoa, a Kahuku alumnus, is also in the mix.
Lee, who is also a linebackers coach at UH, also brought former Warriors receiver Justin Colbert and lineman Keali'i Aguiar into camp. His Manoa connections also paid off in getting lineman Antoine Simpson to try out for the Islanders; Simpson is a University of Houston alumnus who played briefly for the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.
"He was looking around and heard some good things about what was going on here," Lee said.
Simpson heard those things from Lee's fellow UH assistant Tyson Helton. Helton and Simpson were teammates at Houston.
Inside stuff: Lee's coaching staff remains intact, except for consultant Mouse Davis. The run-and-shoot guru who helped invent arena football was often by Lee's side last year at Islanders games. But Davis was hired to be the head coach at San Diego in the offseason. "That makes it a little rougher on us, especially since we play them four times," Lee said. "It's going to be challenging. We'll miss his personality and experience, and what a good job he does wherever he's coaching. Playing against him will be a test, that's for sure." ... Alema Harrington will do radio play-by-play for Islanders home and away games. The team is still looking for a color commentator. ... Veterans Nian Taylor, Channon Harris and Eddie Klaneski are among the returnees in the secondary and at receiver. ... A total of 37 players (including two internationals) must be cut to 30 by Saturday and the roster must be trimmed to 21 by March 22.
Home games at Blaisdell Arena. For ticket information, call 532-7362.
||at Central Valley (Fresno)
||at San Diego
||at San Diego
||at Central Valley