Posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2003
Islanders, Stealth to battle at Blaisdell
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
WHAT: arenafootball2 first-round playoff game
WHO: Wichita Stealth (8-7-1) vs. Hawaiian Islanders (10-6)
WHEN: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Blaisdell Arena
ADMISSION: $22.50 suite level; $15 lower level; $10 upper level adult; $7 upper level ages 4-17.
RADIO: Live on KUMU2 AM 1500
PARKING: $3Higher remaining seed will play at the No. 2 Albany Conquest (13-3)
Hopefully there will be fewer punches and knock downs this time around.
The National West Division teams beat each other on their home fields during the regular season, with things getting ugly the last time they met May 16 at the Blaisdell.
During the second quarter of that game, an on-field fight broke out after Islanders kicker Kimo Naehu was roughed by Wichita lineman Kerry Linnear on an extra-point attempt.
The melee spilled out near midfield and a fan reached over the four-foot-high barrier wall and yanked the facemask of Wichita's Brian Livingston. Another fan on the other side of the field walked into the Wichita bench area and threw a black bag and chair onto the field. Two players from each team were ejected and both fans were escorted from the arena.
The Stealth went to the locker room immediately following the skirmish and the Islanders soon followed. Both teams returned after a 10-minute cooling off period and the game ended without further incident.
"What happened last time I can't even remember when that was it was so long ago," Islanders head coach Cal Lee said. "We're a different ball club and maybe both of us are different."
Wichita head coach Sean Ponder expects things to be peaceful for tomorrow night's game, which starts at 7:30.
|ARENAFOOTBALL2 PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
No. 6 Wichita Stealth (8-7-1) vs. No. 3 Hawaiian Islanders (10-6), 7:30 p.m. (HST) at Blaisdell Arena.
No. 5 Bakersfield Blitz (8-7-1) at No. 4 Arkansas Twisters (9-7)
Lower remaining seed will play at the No. 1 Quad City Steamwheelers (14-2)
Higher remaining seed will play at the No. 2 Tulsa Talons (14-2)
No. 6 Mohegan Wolves (10-6) at No. 3 Cape Fear Wildcats (10-6)
No. 5 Florida Firecats (10-6) at No. 4 Macon Knights (10-6)
Lower remaining seed will play at the No. 1 Tennessee Valley Vipers (14-2)
Higher remaining seed will play at the No. 2 Albany Conquest (13-3)
Ponder took over four days after the game in Honolulu and has guided the Stealth to a 4-4-1 record. Ponder, who had been director of player personnel and assistant offensive coordinator, replaced Bob Cortese, who resigned because of health-related reasons.
"I think the players have embraced it," Ponder said of his promotion to head coach. "Since coach Cortese left the players have rallied behind it. They respect me and play hard for me."
The Islanders (10-6) and Wichita (8-7-1) are struggling heading into the game.
The Islanders, the National Conference's No. 3 seed, have dropped three of their last four, including a 75-61 loss to the Bakersfield Blitz last Sunday in which they gave up a season-high point total.
"It's playoff time and it's time to strap it up," Lee said. "It's the second season and we're in it, and everybody's starting off brand new and we're going to go out there and I believe we're going to play a lot better than we did last week."
The No. 6-seeded Stealth are coming off a 61-59 loss to the visiting Cincinnati Swarm last Saturday, and have three losses and one tie in their last four games.
If Wichita had beaten Cincinnati, the Stealth would have hosted a first-round playoff game this weekend.
The other National Division first-round playoff game will feature the No. 5 Bakersfield Blitz (8-7-1) at the No. 4 Arkansas Twisters (9-7) on Saturday night.
The winners from this weekend will play next week in the conference semifinals, with the lower seed playing at the top-seeded Quad City Steamwheelers (14-2) and the higher seed traveling to play the No. 2 Tulsa Talons (14-2).
New look Stealth: Four key Wichita players suffered season-ending injuries since the teams last met, according to Ponder.
The injured players are: Michael Dritlein (offensive specialist; knee), Lee Vaughn (defensive specialist; knee), Daren Williams (fullback/linebacker; foot) and Dan Dawson (receiver/defensive back; knee).
Dritlein led af2 in scoring, touchdowns and all-purpose yards at the time of his injury, May 31 against Green Bay.
His 57-yard missed field-goal return with three seconds remaining lifted host Wichita over the Islanders, 36-29, on May 3.
Vaughn is third on the team with 43 tackles in eight games, Williams leads in rushing with 137 yards in 10 games and Dawson ranks fourth with 33 tackles in 10 games.
Trio returns to Islanders: Eddie Klaneski (defensive specialist; shoulder), Anthony Arceneaux (receiver/defensive back; hip) and Taulia Lave (tight end/defensive lineman; knee/shoulder) will play tomorrow night for the Islanders after missing last week's game with injuries.
Klaneski leads the team with 75 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and 15 passes defended.
The Islanders' secondary was repeatedly burned last week against Bakersfield.
"Whenever you get a guy like Eddie whose been playing for 15 weeks and you take him out of your defense, especially your secondary, you're definitely taking a step back," Lee said.
Notes: Teams will be allowed to suit up 20 players in playoff games, up one from the regular season. ... Wichita head coach Sean Ponder said former University of Hawai'i and Hawaiian Islander quarterback Jared Flint will play tomorrow night after missing games while tending to a family illness in California.