Friday | November 17, 2017
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On scholarship: Honokaa grad keeps dream alive at Pima CC

The dream hasn’t changed and neither has the altitude, but the landscape is definitely different for Kamaehu Richards.

As his former Honokaa teammates were gearing up Monday for their preseason football opener, Richards was in Tuscon, Ariz., competing for a starting spot at Pima Community College.

The temperature during a late-afternoon practice in the desert was 101 degrees.

“That’s the average,” Richards said. “Blazing hot.”

The coaches’ advice: Eat, drink, eat, drink, drink and drink some more.

After growing up in Waimea, he’s found life in Southern Arizona – elevation 2,389 feet – to be as sultry and satisfactory as in Northern Hawaii.

“I love it here,” he said. “There are a lot of great athletes and they push me a lot.”

From what the coaches have told him, he working his way to becoming a regular at fullback, but he’s also practicing at tight end and halfback.

Richards was honorable mention all-BIIF last season playing tight end and linebacker with the Dragons. At 6 feet, 2 inches and 240 pounds, he’s focusing on offense with the Aztecs, who are coming off of a three-win season and play in the Western States Football League.

Coming out of high school, he had offers from a pair of four-year schools, Division II Western New Mexico and Kansas Wesleyan of the NAIA.

Ultimately, he chose the two-year route and a partial scholarship at Pima. The main selling point was coach Jim Monaco’s message: Come here, work had and the opportunities are endless.

“They say this is the toughest junior college conference in the nation,” Richards said. “My long-term goals are to play Division I and then to play professionally.”

In the spring, he may also try to join the baseball team. He plans to study fire science.

Of the 42 football players in Pima’s freshman class, 11 are from Hawaii. Meanwhile, 11 players who finished their eligibility last season moved on to four-year colleges, including Kendall Huey, who is playing with Utah of the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Honokaa coach Hana Hanohano touted Richards’ leadership skills.

“He brought a can-do attitude and had a steady work ethic,” Hanohano said. “He always wanted to be involved and had a positive attitude.”

Richards was a three-year starter at Honokaa, and the only football player during that span to play in college.

“A lot of his teammates had the opportunity, but they didn’t go that extra mile,” Hanohano said. “I told him to always set his goals high. Just work hard, especially in the classroom.”


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