Free State High football star moonlighting in the movies

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Every high school athlete wants to be a star, and lead his or her team to an award-winning performance.

Free State High School in Lawrence has a receiver who’s hopeful for a golden moment. He’s already experienced a couple of them on the silver screen.

He’s getting accustomed to hearing his name associated with starring roles.

Free State High School receiver/linebacker Keith Loneker is trying to catch a star, and, perhaps, turn a piece of Hollywood into a full-time opportunity.

It’s been two summers since Loneker took his first role on a movie screen — appropriately, playing a high school football player in the feature film “Underdogs.’ Keith’s Father — Keith Loneker, Sr. — has worked in 12 major movies — including “Leatherheads,” where he played opposite family friend George Clooney. Keith Junior says dad asked him if he’d like a chance to experience the big time for himself.

“He asked me, ‘would you ever feel like doing a movie?’ Loneker said. “I’ve always wanted to do what he does. I’ve always looked up to him. I’m like, ‘yeah, of course, i want to try it.’.”

Loneker says it was a dream come true, and going forward, Keith Junior says he wouldn’t mind acting as a career.

“You’ll hear him get a little “Hollywood” thrown at him once in a while,” Free State Coach Bob Lischer said. “It’s not like he had a leading role. It’s a fun deal and he’s in the movies. That’s more than I can say.”

For now, Keith says the red carpet can wait. Friday night is where he wants to be a marquee star. His Firebirds are off to an undefeated start to 2013 and a Kansas 6A state title would mean more than a spot in the movies could.

“I can always count on him since he’s on my side,” Free State Linebacker Stan Skwralo said. “I can always count on him being there making the tackles.”

“These are my best friends,” Loneker glowed. “All I want is for them to get a state championship. There’s no better feeling than getting a state championship this year.”

And that’s quite a claim, since to some, he’s already a celebrity.

“Underdogs” was released to regional theatres in August with actors Maddie Hasson and D.B. Sweeney in starring roles. IMDB indicates we’ll be able to see Keith’s acting abilities on DVD in October.

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