Kahuku standout Zion Ah You resists temptation to transfer, stays home

Kahuku defensive lineman Zion Ah You (25) caught a deflected pass for an interception during the first half against Campbell in the OIA playoffs last year. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

In the end, Zion Ah You wouldn’t surrender his chance for one last season as a Kahuku Red Raider.

The Star-Advertiser All-State defensive lineman could have taken a route to Utah this fall while Hawaii high school football goes dormant. Utah powerhouse Orem, which won the 5A state title last year, is home to some of Ah You’s relatives. The Tigers have won three state crowns in a row, but he thought better of it.

“No way. Only if they made it legal to play two seasons (in one year),” Ah You said, noting that the first game of the season is around the corner in the Beehive State. “Utah starts on Friday, so I don’t think so.”

One of Ah You’s teammates at Kahuku, linebacker Alan Talanoa, did make the move and transferred to Utah to play his senior season. A few junior-varsity players have also transferred, Ah You said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered football, cross country, girls volleyball and competitive cheer in the islands until 2021. One player, Kamehameha senior quarterback Kia‘i Keone, already made the move to Utah two weeks ago and is now suiting up for powerhouse Skyridge.

Among Ah You’s family at Orem are four-star recruit Kingsley Su‘amataia and Jayden Ah You. Orem is the same school that April Atuaia came from in 2000. Originally from the North Shore, Atuaia moved with her mother to stay close with her three older brothers playing football at BYU. She played basketball as a senior at Orem, then transferred to Kahuku, where her father was still a teacher, and played another hoops season in the spring. A two-time all-state selection in Utah, Atuaia was named to the All-State team in Hawaii.

That maneuver was clever and perfectly legal. Atuaia signed with Hawaii in May of ’00 and went on to have a stellar career with the Rainbow Wahine. The Hawaii High School Athletic Association then revised its rule regarding eligibility for a student-athlete playing one sport in two seasons. By the ’08-09 season, girls basketball moved to the winter, making the matter moot anyway.

The year 2020, though, is providing an endless run of strange and unexpected wrinkles. If he could have, Ah You quite possibly would have played for Orem this fall, then again for Kahuku — if there is a spring season — before graduating.

With one Division-I level scholarship offer — from Valparaiso — the 5-10, 250-pound defensive tackle/fullback is putting his faith in a football season in the spring.


  1. rrforlifebaby August 12, 2020 2:53 pm

    Can’t really blame the kids for making the move and getting in the playing time this fall. Football in the spring isn’t a guarantee. Rock and a hard place for seniors especially. Alan Talanoa is a straight up beast.

    Good luck to the transfers; also that kid from Kamehameha.

  2. Makule Joe August 12, 2020 3:04 pm

    Best of luck. However, just heard that several high school games in Utah has been cancelled due to outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus.

  3. ILoveHawaii August 13, 2020 7:11 am

    I guess that answers that question.
    Do other states have the same rule?
    Such an unprecedented time.

    Kind of makes me think about those international basketball players and how they found a legit way to work the system.

    Championship game on Saturday, practicing at the new school the following Monday.

  4. Real Talk on HawaiiPrep August 14, 2020 6:20 pm

    Zion Ah You = the best defensive lineman in the state

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