Kesi Ah-Hoy is about as close as you can come to the full incarnation of the ultimate Kahuku football player.
A cool customer off the field, Ah-Hoy is anything but on it. When Ah-Hoy was a sophomore, the head coach at the time, Lee Leslie, had a glint in his eye when he talked about Kesi.
“That kid is just a great athlete and something special,” Leslie would say about Ah-Hoy that year, when he was a running back and the Red Raiders’ offense didn’t have quite enough gas to support its stellar defense.
In Ah-Hoy’s junior year, when he was thrown into the role of a running quarterback, he got the call more often than not to run the ball, and he ran it right down the gut of opponents all the way to the state Division I championship game victory over Saint Louis.
Now, he’s going to do his best to take over the spot vacated by Honolulu Star-Advertiser defensive player of the year Keala Santiago at free safety.
“We lost a lot of players on defense (a unit which allowed 4.1 points per game),” Ah-Hoy said Wednesday after practice. “Most specifically, we lost Keala. We needed more DBs, so I decided to switch over and play there and and try to fill his shoes. It will be hard because he was a great player. He comes by to see us, so I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from him, soak it up from him.
“Keala tells me to trust the process and to trust everything I’m learning now. Stick to your keys and your reads and do your job and trust that the other 10 players out there will do their job.”
When the Hawaii Prep World crew showed up to to meet with second-year head coach Vavae Tata, Ah-Hoy and the rest of the Red Raiders on Wednesday, some team drills were in progress. Ah-Hoy sprinted over from his center-field position to pick off a pass. He was vocal and pumped up about the accomplishment against his teammates.
Later in practice, Ah-Hoy bit on a ball that he thought was going to be short and he got beat deep.
“The quarterback was scrambling and I didn’t plaster to my receiver,” he said. “I was being a little selfish and I came up. I need to stick to my job.”
Ah-Hoy played the final part of last season with a hurt ankle and it took a while to get better.
“I think it was sore for at least three weeks,” he said. “Then, we pretty much started working out, even though the ankle was still bothering me a little. I skipped basketball season so I could fully recover.”
Ah-Hoy has experience at safety. He played there in his freshman JV season and when he was with the Laie team in the Big Boyz league.
“He’s excited to be on this side of the ball with us,” cornerback Kekaula Kaniho said. “He likes flying around and he’s a very hard-working guy. It pumps us all up. If he makes a mistake, he’s pissed off, and if he does good, he’s still pissed off at himself.”
Tata calls Ah-Hoy a “Swiss Army Knife” because of his versatility.
“He can do it all, quarterback, running back, safety,” he said.
Ah-Hoy has four Division I FBS college offers and he is taking it upon himself as a leader to help try and make this year’s Red Raiders another in a long line of memorable teams. He has already solidified his place in that long line of memorable Red Raiders, and so whatever he does this season will add to that legacy.