When Aalona Monteilh was born, a song was playing in the delivery room: “Don’t Know Much” by Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt.
“They were going to name me Analu (Andrew),” said the young man who was christened Aalona-Analu.
In another hospitial, a boy named Shepherd Kekahuna was born. The two became basketball teammates at Papakolea, then their paths crossed this year, when Kekahuna transferred to Roosevelt from St. Francis.
Monteilh was at Saint Louis, a promising defensive back, until leaving in 2017. The Rough Riders have reaped the rewards of all their labor on the hot turf of Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium. Roosevelt was 6-1 in regular-season play last year, rolling to the OIA D-II title with playoff wins over Pearl City and Kaimuki en route to a 12-2 overall mark.
This season, they went 7-1 in the regular season and finished in a first-place tie with Kaimuki and Kaiser.
“They remind me of Troy Polamalu,” Roosevelt defensive coordinator Jon Kahooilihala said. “They both play the pass well and they come up to bang on the run. Shep adjusted very well to outside linebacker. He’s like a strong safety. Lona’s knowledge of the position and the game makes him a natural. His reads back there are on point.”
The Rough Riders open the playoffs against Waialua on Saturday. With a state-tournament berth on the line, they’ll play without Monteilh. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound starting safety suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee two weekends ago against Kalaheo.
Talent in Monteilh family
A nephew of former Saint Louis standout Keao Monteilh, Aalona is a student of the game, and always willing to go beyond the call. Against Kalaheo, he was assigned to defend against a possible fake kick. But Monteilh decided to rush and try to block the kick. The kicker slipped and Monteilh wound up on the ground, where another player landed on his left knee.
Just like that, with a damaged meniscus, ACL and MCL, Monteilh’s season came to an end. He could have stayed back in coverage, but some players just aren’t wired that way. Now he has surgery and rehab ahead.
“I’ve got to trust the process,” Monteilh said.
Monteilh is learning a new role as he observes teammates from the bench.
“Lona is an overachiever on the field. He’ll do anything to better the team,” Kahooilihala said. “That’s him. It’s ingrained in him. He always plays to the max. We have a lot of kids like that on this team, willing to do what they have to do for the team.”
Roosevelt beat Kalaheo 33-0, and with Monteilh — and Joshua Maikui, a starting cornerback — sidelined, the Rough Riders closed out the regular season with a 55-10 win at Nanakuli. Kekahuna, a 5-10, 195-pound senior, started out at safety alongside Monteilh before Roosevelt moved him to outside linebacker this season.
“Shep is a beast. He told me last week, ‘Coach, we’re just built different.’ I don’t think he has a down shift. Everything he does is 100% whether it’s defense, offense or special teams,” Kahooilihala said.
Kekahuna could move back to safety, but Monteilh believes in the talent and depth of the secondary.
“Everyone needs that mind-set. We have a big target on our back. We should be in that grind where we should be able to take states. It would be disappointing if we lose because we do work hard at practice and all of us boys know what we’re made of,” Monteilh said.
Kekahuna could see offensive action
The plan, Kekahuna and Monteilh said, was for both to get more snaps on offense during the playoffs. Quarterback Sky Ogata flourished in Roosevelt’s run-first scheme, then adapted to the four-wide playbook this year. Kekahuna got some offensive work in against Nanakuli with two receptions for 44 yards and one carry for a 2-yard TD.
At St. Francis last year, Kekahuna had 10 carries for 170 yards and two TDs and a team-high 19 receptions for 406 yards and four TDs. At 195, he is 15 pounds stronger this year.
Both are close to their families. Kekahuna remembers spending time in his grandparents’ home as his dad (Jacob) worked long hours.
“All my coaches pushed me to where I am today. My grandpa (Joseph) taught me how to play football. My aunties (Mavis Kamanu and Julie and Jae Kekahuna) took care of me when I was little,” Kekahuna said.
Monteilh is set for surgery in the coming week or two. All the extreme emotions resulting from the injury are in action. He is handling it as well as could be expected. He is grateful. He says he’s been spoiled to an extent as the youngest of four children, as the only boy, but he appreciates his family above all.
“My mom (Helen) kind of took off work to take care of me,” he said.
Kahooilihala, son of head coach Kui Kahooilihala, will miss this group of seniors.
“These kids bring that fire. I’ll miss the conversations. I would ask them how they’re feeling, what’s their take on the game, things like that, and they would answer, and I would feed off that. Always awesome conversations,” the DC said.
SHEPHERD KEKAHUNA, AALONA MONTEILH
Roosevelt football • Seniors
Q&A / FAVORITES
Kekahuna: Tyrann Mathieu
Monteilh: Deion Sanders
Kekahuna: “I don’t have a team. I like the Jacksonville Jaguars defense.”
Monteilh: “Philadelphia Eagles”
FOOD AT HOME
Kekahuna: “Fried rice. My grandpa (Joseph Kekahuna) would make it.”
Monteilh: “My mom (Helen) makes the best fried chicken. I can make it.”
Kekahuna: “Working out and training.”
Monteilh: “I like hiking. Maunawili and Manoa Falls.”
Kekahuna: “I usually watch ‘Lord of the Rings’ with my grandma (Ana).”
Monteilh: “ ‘Remember the Titans’. It’s me and my dad’s favorite movie. (Dad is Anthony.)”
Kekahuna: “ ‘Ridiculousness.’ It’s pretty funny. And ‘Silent Library.’ ”
Monteilh: ” ‘Wildin’ Out.’ My favorite is DC Young Fly. He’s funny.”
Kekahuna: “I don’t love ‘Fortnite.’ ”
Monteilh: “He plays all the time.”
Kekahuna: “I play once a week.”
Monteilh: “I tried it, but I’m trash. I hate shooting games.”
Kekahuna: “I play with people from everywhere. Saint Louis them. There’s a guy who has a $9 million contract to play ‘Fortnite,’ and they stream him on a site.”