Kahale Warring

An image from the May 21, 2019 offseason OTA practice at Houston Methodist Training Center in Houston, TX.

Sonora native Kahale Warring, a highly-touted second-year tight end with the Houston Texans, is expected to play in tonight’s National Football League season opener when the Texans go up against the Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions.

When Warring lines up on special teams or with the offense for the first time tonight at Arrowhead Stadium, he will become one of the few Sonorans ever to play in the NFL.

Family members and loved ones and supporters in Sonora are planning watch parties this evening to see what Warring can do in his first NFL regular season game. Pregame coverage on NBC begins at 4 p.m. and kickoff is scheduled at 5:20 p.m.

“I talked to him last night,” Warring mother, Nichole Longeway, said Thursday in a phone interview. “He is going to play on all the special teams and he is going to play some offense, at tight end. He’s one of three tight ends. The other two are experienced so they’ll ease him into that. There’s four special teams and he’s supposed to be doing all four special teams.”

Longeway said her employer in Sonora allowed her to come to work earlier than usual Thursday so that she can be off in time to watch her son and the rest of the Texans from the start of their contest against the Chiefs this evening.

“We have some family that will be at the house,” Longeway said. “My poor daughter has Zoom classes for AMDA, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, until 7 p.m. She’s doing virtual studies from home in Sonora. We’ll work it out.”

Kirk Clifton, varsity football offensive coordinator at Sonora High, has been talking to Warring, and will also be doing a watch party, Longeway said.

Warring, 23, will be wearing number 81 when he takes the field tonight for the Texans. He was a multi-sport star for the Wildcats who started playing football his senior year at Sonora. He was a Sonora High Class of 2015 grad. He played 19 games at San Diego State and started five before declaring for the 2019 NFL draft.

He was a third-round NFL Houston Texans draft pick in April 2019, and the Texans signed him in June to a four-year contract through 2022.

Warring was placed on the Texans’ injured reserve list in early September last year, about a month after he sustained a concussion in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin. He also sustained a hamstring injury earlier last summer.

“It’s been challenging,” Longeway said. “He got the concussion. I think they wanted to give him a redshirt year, for want of a better term, to catch him up on the playbook and get him ready for this year.”

Tonight’s NFL season opener is a rematch from last season’s playoffs in early January, when the Chiefs rallied from a 24-0 deficit to hammer the Texans 51-31 at Arrowhead, en route to Kansas City’s triumph in Super Bowl 54. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL staged no preseason games in advance of tonight’s regular season opener. The league’s decision to cancel preseason games was announced in late July.

“I’m just excited to see him on the field and see what he’s capable of,” Longeway said. “I’ve heard a lot of talk, that he has a lot of potential. So I’m just excited to see what it is and what he can do at this level of play.”

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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