Depth gives coaches
tough choices to make

The Hawaiian Islanders players who take the field for tomorrow's arenafootball2 game at Louisville will have passed a stiff test just to earn their ticket to Kentucky.

The depth of this year's squad has turned making the game roster into a competition unto itself, as players battle in practice for a coveted spot on the 19-man list.

"We all understand that by us doing our best and competing it makes everybody better, it makes the team better and makes our chances of winning a championship better," quarterback Darnell Arceneaux said. "Everybody understands that it's not personal, but when we're out here it's business, it's time to work."

The Islanders (1-0) attempt their second road win of the young season against the Louisville Fire tomorrow at Freedom Hall. Kickoff for the Fire's season opener is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Hawaii time.

Arceneaux, the Islanders' starter for two seasons, is being pushed by capable backups Brian Ah Yat and Shawn Withy-Allen. But the quarterback race is only one of several on the practice field.

Desmond Maul and Joshua Robinson performed well in the Islanders' 68-35 season-opening win at Central Valley two weeks ago. But Eddie Klaneski's return from injury figures to cut into the playing time for others. Klaneski led the team in tackles and was the Islanders' top defender last season.

Receivers Gabe Amey and Nian Taylor are also set to return to action after sitting out the opener, creating tough decisions for the Islanders' coaches.

"We were in the locker room (Monday) night making the cut and we looked at three or four different scenarios," defensive coordinator Doug Semones said. "In the end we had one position open and about four guys we felt we could take and be confident in. It's tough, but it's what we have to do."

Semones said the competition for playing time is evident in the boost in intensity during practices.

"Every play they know they're being evaluated and every rep counts and guys are going really hard," he said.

"The fact that we left a bunch of guys at home the first week who didn't practice hard because of injuries sent the message out that if you're not going 100 percent in practice, you're not going to play in the game."

Said Klaneski: "Everybody's just going to have to come out here and battle. You can't slack off, you can't not work out on the side and do that extra stuff. Everybody's going to have to push themselves."

Player moves: Lineman Tiki Sagapolutele was re-acquired by the Islanders this week and was slated to be on the 19-man roster for the Louisville game.

The Islanders also activated Klaneski, Ah Yat and Amey from the short-term injured reserve list. They re-activated defensive back Nate Jackson, who returned to the team this week after a tryout with NFL Europe, and placed him on the short-term IR while his paperwork is finalized.

Jackson won't be able to play in the next two games, which will also give him time to adjust to the indoor game.

"He just has to learn the game and learn the schemes. It's going to take him a couple weeks to figure it out," Semones said. "Athletically he can do it, it's just the little things about the defenses with the leverages and the shades. Once he understands those he'll be able to react a lot faster."

Quick kicks: Tomorrow's game will be broadcast live on KUMU2 1500-AM. ... The Islanders defeated the Fire 67-48 last year at Blaisdell Arena. ... The Islanders open their eight-game home schedule April 17 against Bossier-Shreveport. Kickoff for home games is 6:30 p.m. ... Hawaii is ranked third in this week's af2 coaches poll. Quad City is first, followed by Tennessee Valley. ... The Islanders play just five teams in their 16-game regular-season schedule. They'll face West Division foes Bakersfield, Central Valley and San Diego four times each and have home-and-home series with Louisville and Bossier-Shreveport.


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