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The Alta Hawks are once again loaded with talented players as they attempt to defend another 5A state title. All those talented players look up to their captain, senior linebacker Toloa'i Ho-Ching.
He sets the tone for this powerhouse program on and off the field.
"He flies, dude," says Alta quarterback Jordan Brown. "He gets to the ball so quick. Hits hard, lays the wood on you, he's just tough. Great player, great player."
As a junior, he established himself as one of the top defenders in the state. His intensity and passion on the field has earned him scholarship offers from a number of schools including Wisconsin and BYU. Scout.com rates him as the fifth best high school player in the Northwest.
I love the game," says Ho-Ching. "People tell you 'football is a lot like life' and a lot of people shrug it off. I take it serious, I really do. I hope I can go far in it and it's taught me a lot. It's taught me how to work hard, set goals for myself, and I can achieve them. I know I can achieve them."
But it's more than just his play that gets the attention of his teammates and coaches.
"What's most impressive about A'i is, obviously, he's a great football player. But it's off the field that impresses me so much about him," says Alta Head Football Coach Les Hamilton. "His work ethic in the classroom, his work ethic in the weight room, his leadership amongst his peers, he's a great kid, hard working, dedicated and one heck of a football player."
For A'i, football is in his blood. His uncle Spencer Reid played at BYU from 1994-97 and spent time in the NFL. His uncle Gabriel Reid played at BYU from 1999-2002 and played in Super Bowl XLI with the Chicago Bears. He has a number of other relatives who have gone on to play football at the next level.
"I've gotta give it up for my family," A'i says. "They've always been there for me. They sacrifice a lot and they spoil me, kind of. I'm like a spoiled brat. I don't know why. I love them a lot."
His family has also stressed education. A'i has a 3.85 grade point average.
"I can't play if I don't get straight A's," he says. "My parents set that rule a long time ago so I've focused on my academics too."
Ho-Ching is surrounded by a ton of talent. Offensive lineman Jordan Black is committed to BYU. Fellow linebacker Parker Hausknecht is headed to Utah State and those are just the players who have division one offers before the season. With a loaded roster, Toloa'i hopes to lead his team to a third consecutive 5A state title.
"It would be great," he says. "It would be fun to play in the championship game again knowing it's your senior year going out with a bang. That's what our goal is now and hopefully we can achieve it."