Damien’s diamond in the rough: LB Kahiau Young

Kahiau Young of Damien was the lone Division I selection to the list of five MVP linebackers at the invite-only Polynesian Bowl Combine on Saturday. The other four selections are from Open Division programs.

Bringing the best of the best together for the Polynesian Bowl Combine was equal parts fun and competition.

Kahiau Young had, perhaps, even more motivation. The Damien senior was one of five linebackers named co-MVP at the position after the long day was done at Skippa Diaz Stadium. Leonard Ah You, Kruze Keanu and Liona Lefau of Kahuku, and Alika Cavaco-Amoy of Punahou were also selected out of 48 linebackers.

“Leonard and Liona, I think they’re (rated) four stars in the class of 2023, Kruze is my boy from Utah at the PTP camp. Alika, he’s going to be a sophomore. He’s big. I know him because when we did Pylon stuff earlier in the year, and he was on the offensive side for QB Impact,” Young said.

The junior was the only ‘backer from a Division I football program to be picked.

“It feels good to know that I’m up there with them. When I went to this camp, I wasn’t expecting to win an MVP, just do my best and prove to these coaches.,” he said.

Players’ shirt numbers were called out rather than their names.

“I didn’t even know the number on my back. My friend in the back of me said, ‘You’re 531, go!’ I was the last guy they called,” Young said.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound defender thrived without a helmet and pads on. He expects to do more once official practice at Damien begins on Monday. Full pads will be on July 26.

“For me, personally, playing in full pads would’ve been the same outcome. I feel like I do better with pads on. I love the physicalness of the game,” he said. “The camp was good fun. Hot. It was very competitive, especially one-on-one competition. Seven on seven, too.”

Young doesn’t know all of the names of linebacker coaches who led the LBs at the combine, but they certainly know him.

Lincoln Manutai. Kaeo Drummondo. Coach Kaeo coached me in the first part of drills,” he said.

Those coaches were less interested in their linebackers’ metrics, like 40-yard dash times, are more attuned to football IQ and execution.

Kahiau Young, in the red shirt, has tremendous support from his family. From left: Alika Young (uncle), Nevin Young (grandfather), RayAnne Young (grandmother), Kanani Young (mother), Raymond Padello Sr. (grandfather) and Roci Esteban (aunt). Photo courtesy of Kahiau Young.

“He may not be as big as some of the linebackers in the Open Division, but he works just as hard and can play with any of them,” Damien coach Eddie Klaneski said. “Kahi is a quiet kid who leads more by example. We are trying to get him to be a little more vocal and he is starting to do that.”

Young has been at it for months and months, whether his school had on-campus or off-campus workouts available.

“We train with weights every Monday, Tuesday, take a rest on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday. We go in groups, one group in the weight room, another doing speed work with coach Austin Pang-Kee,” he said.

Damien has roughly 31 to 32 players in conditioning mode, Young added.

“Our team is pretty young. We don’t have too much numbers, but we have a lot of potential to be one of the best teams in the state. The quality of the players we have is there,” Young said. “We came a long way from the start of the year. We were practicing at Ala Puumalu field (in Salt Lake). As soon as we got rolling again, we got closer and the brotherhood is there now. The confidence is there because of that.”

Klaneski is planning to utilize his players in more ironman-type dual roles.

“With our small numbers, he will be asked to play more on both sides of the ball this season. His role will be to lead our team in any way he can whether by example or vocally,” Klaneski said. “This is his senior year and one of the few of our players who have varsity playing experience, so we expect him to be one of our best players.”

Young is grounded and humble, but he also has a crystal ball.

“I see us making the (Division I) state championship,” he said. “And winning it.”

Kahiau Young’s Lockdown Staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “Outer Banks” (Netflix)

“It’s about a group of teenagers on a treasure hunt. I really liked it. I watched it summer of last year, and I rewatched it because a new season is coming out.”

2. Harry Potter

“All the movies. To me, it’s the best movie franchise of all time. I mean, it’s cool to watch what they do, all the wizardry. I haven’t read the books. I rather watch the movies.”

3. “Night School”

“It’s a movie with Kevin Hart. He didn’t graduate high school when he was supposed to, living a normal life with a wife and job, and everything came crashing down and he had to go back to school. It’s a funny movie.”

Top 3 food/drink/snack

1. Beef stew

“Made by my grandpa (Nevin Young). It’s kind of a secret. I don’t know what makes it so good. Carrots, potatoes, beef, of course, a little bit of celery. No onions. He doesn’t make it all the time, but when he does, it’s good. I live with him, my grandma, my uncle and my mom.”

2. Chicken katsu curry, L&L Hawaiian BBQ (Pearl City)

“I just like chicken katsu, and adding the curry makes it 10 times better.”

3. Raising Cane’s

“Usually I’ll be cruising with my friends, so if we’re near one, we go there. Hawaii Kai, Mililani, Moiliili. They’re making a new one in Pearl City. I think that’s a good idea. It’s right near my house.”

Top 3 music artists

1. Jason Aldean – “You Make It Easy”

2. Ekolu (ft. Micah G) – “You Love Me Good”

3. Blxst (ft. Drake the Ruler) – “Don’t Forget”

GPA: 3.6

New life skill: Driving

“I first started driving last year. My grandpa used to take me to CORP in Waipio and drive around the parking lot. A few weeks later, we drove on the main roads. Then I took driver’s ed and I got my permit in October. I take my provisional test this October. I want to drive. I want go cruising with all my friends.”

Shout outs

“Shout out to my family, friends, teachers, and my coaches. Coach Eddie (Klaneski), Coach Tui (David Tuiasosopo), Coach Bones (Tuitele), Coach Elia Akau, Coach Kaulapa Apelu, Coach Tony (Pang-Kee) and Coach Austin (Pang-Kee), and Coach Harry Paaga.”


  1. RayAnne July 14, 2021 8:22 am

    Congratulations Mo’o! We’re proud of u. May the Lord continue to be ur light. Love u, Tutu Kane & Tutu Honey

  2. ????? July 14, 2021 12:25 pm

    Kid was grinding it out with the best…on another note, any word on Fans, limited??? Parents??? State is sad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiprepworld@staradvertiser.com.