Season at Skyridge pays off for Kamehameha’s Kia‘i Keone

Kia‘i Keone, far right, has the support of his family. From left: Kihei, Tamsin, Maka, Hilina‘i and Kila. Photo courtesy of Kia‘i Keone.

Last summer, Kia‘i Keone transferred to a school in Utah for a chance to play football.

It turned out to be a winning move. The Kamehameha quarterback played in eight games for powerhouse Skyridge, drawing attention from a few colleges in the Rockies. On Wednesday, Keone signed a letter of intent with Colorado Mesa.

“It’s a Division II school and a great program to play football in. The coaches showed me they really wanted me to be there,” said Keone, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior with a 4.03 grade-point average.

He transferred out in July, arriving at Skyridge in time to learn a totally new system.

“I’m glad I made the move. In hindsight, it helped in all aspects of life. Just growing as a leader. I needed to make the guys buy in even though I had never met them before. My family knew it would be a great move to set me up for my future,” Keone said. “I was mixing in with the other quarterbacks, kind of 1a, 1b.”

Though Utah was one of several states with high levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the high school season never stopped. A few teams halted their game schedule when they reached three positive cases.

“In Utah, there’s very limited positive cases on our team,” Keone noted.

Eastern New Mexico, Black Hills State, Southern Utah and Dixie State had the mobile quarterback on their radars.

“I miss some aspects of Utah, but it’s good to be back home,” said Keone, who is finishing his senior year at Kamehameha. “I enjoyed the cold. At home, I’m always sweating.”

Kia‘i Keone was content as a Kamehameha senior football player three weeks ago, but the ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has led him to a powerhouse program in Utah. Photo courtesy of Kia‘i Keone.

Hawaii is one of seven states that has not played high school sports in the 2020-21 calendar year. Football was postponed to the spring season, then later cancelled outright in Hawaii’s public school leagues. The state championships for fall and winter seasons were also cancelled.

The Warriors are hoping to have an Interscholastic League of Honolulu regular season, which could be modified. Kamehameha is one of the programs that may have at least two teams instead of one to ensure more playing time for everyone on its roster. The first day of the ILH football slate is Feb. 22.

Keone knows he won’t be eligible to play for his home team.

“We’re all super close and it’s been good to hang out with them again. They’re just happy I’m back. I’ll see what’s happening if we have a season. I would love to be another set of eyes in the game,” he said.

Keone says he had a smooth time maintaining the 4.03 GPA.

“I have more work load at Kamehameha,” he said. “So it was easier overall at Skyridge.”

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “Back to the Future”

2. “Moneyball”

“I’ve watched this five times. My parents say I watch it too much.”

3. “Draft Day”

“I watched it four times. I like it.”

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Korean chicken, Zippy’s (Pearl City)

“I got some the next day after I came back (from Utah) just before Christmas.”

2. Meat jun, Dong Yang Inn (Wahiawa)

“I don’t think I had any Korean food in Utah.”

3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

“I love them frozen.”

Top 3 music artists

1. The Green – “Wake Up”

2. Katchafire – “You’re Dreaming”

3. Jimmie Allen – “Best Shot”

New life skill

“Something that I thought is new is I learned to drive in the snow. Sometimes the snow was coming down and I had to drive in it. I would be alone and had to go somewhere. It was just drive slow, pretty much, and go slow on your turns and don’t press the brake too hard. I had to learn as quick as I could.”

Shout outs

“Shout out my parents (Tamsin and Maka). Shout out to my family, my friends and coaches, too.”


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