Where there’s one to begin the job, there’s another to finish it.
When coaches say a game can change on three or four plays, they’re also inferring that elite players like Liona Lefau and Leonard Ah You are on the field. Lefau and Ah You capped a perfect season for Kahuku with scintillating plays on defense, offense and special teams in a 49-14 dusting of No. 2-ranked Saint Louis on Thursday night.
Big Red’s perfect 10-0 season was punctuated by several players who clutched up, including the playmaker wearing No. 10, Lefau. He finished with a team-high five tackles with one sack and one interception.
Blustery, cool conditions were the setting for big plays from the start. Ah You blocked a Crusaders punt, returned by Lefau to the Saint Louis 24-yard line. That massive change in field-position advantage set up Kahuku’s first touchdown .
“That was a big play. That just fired up the team. After that, we went on from there,” Lefau said.
It does beg the question, why don’t more teams utilize their better athletes on every punt return situation? The answer is fairly simple: the odds of blocking a punt, particularly against solid opponents, are never very good. Ah You, Liona and their teammates had been trying all year.
“We got close to a few (blocks). That was the first one,” Lefau said.
The daily film sessions paid off. Defensive back Malosi Lefau returned a Bianco pass 29 yards to the end zone.
“I knew he was gone,” younger brother Liona Lefau said.
“I didn’t know I was gone. I just saw green grass and I was just running,” Malosi Lefau said.
“He made a big-time play. Right when he snatched it, I was celebrating,” Liona Lefau said.
Disaster time for Saint Louis. Malosi Lefau steps in front and gets a 29-yard pick-6. 21-0, still 2:23, Q1. pic.twitter.com/vJNo2YbQd0
— Billy Hull (@billyhull) December 24, 2021
Ah You was always hovering nearby as Saint Louis quarterback AJ Bianco scanned the field for open targets. Ah You had already sacked the 6-foot-4, 225-pound slinger earlier when he took him down in the second half. On the next snap, Ah You’s second burst during a pass rush created a hot spot and Bianco’s sideline pass was picked off by Lefau.
“Honestly, I just did my assignment and forced the QB early. The ball came straight to me. That was Leonard, that was his play. Leonard was getting in the backfield all day. That really helped us. That forced the QB to make sure he’s checking outside every play,” Lefau said.
There is no Batman and Robin here, just two Kahuku superheroes doing whatever it takes to bring the trophy home.
Lefau’s 19-yard TD catch from Jason Mariteragi in the first half also set the tone. Despite Saint Louis’ four consecutive Open Division titles coming into the 2021 state championships, few teams maximize their talent pool the way Kahuku always has over the years.
“It’s a blessing. I mean, all of our hard work paid off. We’re extremely happy to be here right now,” he said.
Lefau is hoping for another busy offseason of training. Another trip to the continent for Pylon tournaments and championships would be exciting, but with 15 scholarship offers, Lefau doesn’t necessarily need more exposure. Ah You has offers from Arizona State, BYU, Hawaii and Oregon State.
The chance to unify, train and compete against some of the nation’s best football athletes is irresistible.
“Yeah. One more. We’ll take the Pylon. We’ll take whatever we can,” Lefau said. “Keep winning.”