By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Recent Kamehameha graduate Kennon Quiocho lives near Waipio Valley, a far drive to the school’s campus in Keaau, where he’s spent so much time at his second home ironing his football skills.
As a favorite hobby, after a season’s conclusion, Quiocho would attend offseason workouts during the week, a practice he still follows. He’s one of those workout Warriors, hitting the weight room, running to stay a step ahead, and refining the finer points to his game.
The 5-foot-11, 280-pound offensive lineman’s dedication also carried over to the classroom as well. He finished with a 3.6 grade-point average. His production as a student-athlete presented him with scholarship offers from Pacific University, Linfield and Cal Lutheran.
Quiocho picked Pacific, landing a merit scholarship and grants from the Division III school in Forest Grove, Ore., where his old quarterback and 2012 graduate Warner Shaw and 2011 graduate Daniel Chun will be waiting with open arms.
There are 27 players from Hawaii, including 2010 Kohala graduate Kelson Kawai, on the roster. Quiocho is the latest in the popular Hawaii-to-Pacific pipeline for the Boxers, who finished 3-6 last season, including 2-4 in the Northwest Conference.
“Pacific is my dream college,” said Quiocho, who plans to major in engineering with an eye toward the environmental or bio-medical field. “It’s a West Coast school and the weather is like Waimea and I’m used to that. About 20 percent of the students are from Hawaii. The atmosphere is like family and they’ve got good academic and football programs. It’s a good all-around school.”
Quiocho credited a long line of coaches for polishing him as a player and person, pointing to Kamehameha coach Dan Lyons, assistants Manly Kanoa, Danny Pacheco, former coach/current Hilo coach Dave Baldwin, and Young Yu, who passed away in September, 2011.
“Coach Yu taught me to always be positive and he’s the main one who taught me if you want to be the best you have to practice with the best, which was why he pushed me to join the varsity as a sophomore,” Quiocho said. “I told him and coach Baldwin you can put me anywhere you want, as along as I can help benefit the team and win.”
Quiocho played on the offensive and defensive lines. As a senior, he was named to the All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II first team at offensive line.
Lyons looked to the team’s center to offer more than blocking and protecting the quarterback. He highlighted Quiocho’s intangibles, the invaluable traits that build team chemistry.
“Each year, he would progress with his strength and size, but also progress in his leadership,” Lyons said. “He had a desire to get better, and he would take other guys under his wing and help them get better.
“He’s got great character, great work ethic and a good sense of humor. He has a positive attitude about everything. He’s a leader and he encourages other people. He cares about other people and how they develop. He’s a very unselfish person. He’s fun-loving, but he works hard and sets an example for everybody.”
If the soon-to-be Boxer needs a reinforcement of any life lesson, he can always play a game of touch football with his dad, Kenneth Quiocho, a police officer, who played ball back in the day at a San Diego high school.
Father and son are also long-suffering fans of the underachieving San Diego Chargers, who appeared in the Super Bowl only once in 1995. Quiocho has been schooled in his Chargers history, too, mentioning Chuck Muncie and noting that the former running back had a penchant for fumbling.
And discipline from father to son was also passed down. It probably was no surprise with his dad being in law enforcement.
“My dad taught me everything in life is not free,” Quiocho said. “You have to work for it and if you really, really want something you’ll get it. Hard work is everything.
“The discipline was daily. You have to clean up after yourself and do the certain things you have to do. He’s very strict on things. That’s helped me in football and school.”
It’s not all serious business between the two. Quiocho can also have a little fun at his dad’s expense.
“He was a cornerback in California and I think I can catch him,” Quiocho said.
He has two younger brothers, upcoming freshman Kastle and sixth-grader Kabbison. His mom missed the boat with the letter “K” hashtag. Her name is Leslie.
She has seen her son’s hard work, applying for the school, connecting with Pacific’s coaches, and dealing with the headache of filling out form after form and making sure everything is in working order.
During the week, he stays in Hilo at a friend’s house to continue his workouts. He’ll leave in August. Until then, Quiocho is following his father’s advice: hard work is everything.
“He wants to complete everything he sets his mind to. That’s his thing. That’s his strongest attribute,” Leslie Quiocho said of her son, who works for everything.