FORT PAYNE — Collinsville’s Kaleb Jones went to his bedroom after getting home from playing a basketball game and took a phone call that led him to Hawaii.
The Panthers’ senior quarterback flew to Honolulu, Hawaii, and played in the Hawaii Tiki Bowl, an all-star game for high school seniors, last weekend.
“It’s great. I’m blessed about it,” Jones said of his invitation to the all-star event. “Coming from a small town, coming into a place you’ve never been before, playing against people you’ve never seen in your life… you have to be able to compete. So I’m blessed God gave me the ability to be able to do the stuff I’ve been able to do.”
This season, Jones helped guide Collinsville to the football program’s first state semifinal appearance. The Panthers finished with a 12-2 overall record and a 21-0 loss against eventual state champion Fyffe in the AHSAA Class 2A state semifinal round Nov. 29, 2019.
Jones was named an all-state selection for three straight seasons, including a first-team nod for the last two years, as well as DeKalb County’s Player of the Year this season. He accounted for 3,109 yards of offense and 41 touchdowns as a Panther.
Jones was one of two quarterbacks on his all-star team, Kekoa, a Hawaiian term for “the brave one.” He split time at QB, switching out each series. If Jones wasn’t playing QB, he was playing defense at free safety or star linebacker.
After not throwing since his last high school football game against Fyffe in the state semifinal, Jones said he was pleasantly surprised with how well threw the ball in the Tiki Bowl. He said he worked hard to get his ankle healed well enough to play and played with it “about 80 percent.”
On Day 3, Jones took a bus on an island tour and was impressed by the beautiful scenery.
“If anyone ever gets a chance to go to Hawaii, please do,” he said. “It’s a great experience.”
Navy made Jones a collegiate offer last May, but he hasn’t committed to a school yet.
He said he’s still figuring out some things.