Kahuku’s Leonard Ah You is a human wrecking ball in state title win

After an offseason training, Pylon tournaments and countless offseason reps, Kahuku linebacker Leonard Ah You played his best game when it mattered most. Paul Honda/phonda@staradvertiser.com.

Thursday morning was different for Leonard Ah You and his neighbors in Laie.

He was still asleep when the loudest of noises blared through the neighborhood.

“I was woken up at 7 o’clock this morning. Auntie Peni Toilolo, she was blasting the tomahawk chop song driving through the community, telling everybody to wake up on the loudspeaker,” said Ah You, who had a state championship football game to play in another 12 hours. “I was like, oh man, the pressure’s on.”

By 10 p.m., it was official. Kahuku overwhelmed Saint Louis, 49-14, to win its first Open Division state crown since 2015. Ah You, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior, had two sacks and blocked a punt, capping a miserably long two years since Kahuku’s last season on the gridiron. He and many other players opted to stay put rather than transfer away.

“There’s no community like the Red Sea. I feel like we play better when our crowd, everybody’s supporting us,” he said.

Ah You wrecks anything given the chance. He may not get to his prize every time, but the constant explosion can change the momentum of a championship game.

Ah You’s carnage often works in tandem with teammate Liona Lefau, who returned Ah You’s punt block on the opening series of the game to the Saint Louis 24-yard line, setting up Kahuku’s first touchdown.

He has been on the punt return team all season. Lefau said they hadn’t blocked a punt until Thursday night, on the biggest stage.

“I was just trying to make a play because I feel like our team is kind of a momentum team, you know? We feed off each other’s energy. When one person makes a good play, everyone plays hard,” Ah You said. “I was on the edge and the guy didn’t pick me up for some reason, I don’t know why. I stuck my hands out and the ball hit my hands.”

He got there so quickly there was no need to dive.

“My hands were sore after,” Ah You said.

In the second half, his second sack set the Crusaders back, and on the next snap, his deep pressure on quarterback AJ Bianco led to a sideline pass that was picked off by Lefau.

“I thought they were going to double me this game because I have quite a bit of sacks, but it is what it is. Saint Louis is a really good team. We’ve been preparing really hard this week with two-a-days, mentally more than physically, and we did what we did” Ah You said.

Making plays isn’t about short-term fun for Ah You and the crew. It’s about relentless, never-ending effort. And second effort. Ah You’s second burst on the pass rush is rare at any level.

“My grandpa (Junior Ah You) and all my coaches were telling me if I just play a little bit lower because I’m kind of a tall guy, play a little lower and I’ll make a lot more plays. That was my goal tonight, just to get down and play as low as I can,” he said. “I tried my best.”

Ah You had his pads and jersey off after the game. His black T-shirt has a portrait of the late Matt Faga on his chest, a memoriam to the former Kahuku defensive line coach.

“Coach Matt, he was a very inspirational man and he taught me most of what I know about the pass rush. I was playing for him, and not only him, but my grandpa Leonard,” Ah You said. “He passed away a couple years back.”

Around the corner, Ah You is ready to play basketball. He pointed to the fence bordering the field and the bleachers at Skippa Diaz Stadium.

“Right there, that guy, Amari,” he said.

Amari Westmoreland-Vendiola, a 6-3 guard/forward who is one of the top players in the state, and other hoopsters were watching.

The future is bright for Ah You, who has scholarship offers from Arizona State, BYU, Hawaii and Oregon State.

For now, the caravan was warming up. The thousands of fans who made the long commute to Skippa Diaz Stadium were ready to honk and holler all the way back home.

“My body’s really sore right now,” Ah You said. “It’s the state championship, we’re going to go home and party with everybody on the North Shore.”


  1. HailFromDaNorth December 25, 2021 12:23 am

    Seems like Kahuku has finally figured out how to create a well balanced offense! Coach Sterling and Coach Sola have definitely found the pieces for the puzzle. And now that they have the formula for what it takes to play the top teams in the nation, The Kahuku reign will be for a long time. Everyone knows that kahuku ain’t short of pure talented athletes, they just needed the guidance and coaching and I believe they found the recipe. If everyone can buy into the system, man. The North will be on top for a long time!

  2. Pakelika December 25, 2021 1:04 pm

    Hail from the north may have made the mistake of foolishly predicting the future without any regard or consideration for the huge X factor that is always lurking to suddenly and unexpectedly overtake, overrule, disrupt, and alter events and the future, ruining wishful, boastful predictions of a long and glorious reign. Unlike in mathematics, where it is possible to solve the X factor and identify it, in the world and real life the X factor rarely reveals it’s identity until the moment that it strikes to upend the kind of prediction made by Hail from the north. This X factor is the unforeseen. By it’s very nature, it is unpredictable, but as events of the past two years should have shown everyone, it should not be ignored or disregarded and unacknowledged. It would be wise to temper any prediction of the kind that Hail from the north has made by qualifying it with: “barring the unforeseen” or “the Almighty One willing” or “ it seems probable to me at this time” In this way, the predictor will not sound so boastful and foolish as Hail to the north may one day be, if his or her prediction does not happen.
    Furthermore, Kahuku’s competitors cannot be expected to be idle and allow this wishful prediction to happen. No one, including Kahuku, has a corner on the market or monopoly on talent, coaching, competitive desire to excel and surpass the competition, pride-including community pride in their school and team, and the will to win. Those competitors can be expected to use the game tape and the result of the HHSAA Open division championship game to fuel their efforts to surpass Kahuku, and break down Kahuku’s personnel and schematic and tactical vulnerabilities. No one is invulnerable and invincible, even if only for a time, then certainly not always, as SL experienced as long as two years ago when they played St. Thomas Aquinas and saw their lengthy win streak ended. That team from Florida was perhaps the best team the Crusaders have faced since they played St. John Bosco in 2014, with the possible exception of the Bishop Gorman team they played in August. As talented and dominant as the Crusaders were in 2019, the same prediction of long term success and dominance for them could have been made at that time. Success is fleeting, and relative, how would Kahuku come out in a match with Bishop Gorman, St. John Bosco, or St. Thomas Aquinas this season? Would Kahuku defeat all of them consecutively in a three week period? We will never know. So certainly celebrate the glow and glory of success in the present, but making boastful predictions about the future is what the foolish would do. The good, sportsmanlike and humble fans of Kahuku-probably the majority, who are enjoying their team’s good fortune are nevertheless very well aware, I am sure, of the truth of what has been stated here.

  3. ??? December 25, 2021 4:00 pm

    What a Christmas! Kahuku 49 State Louis 14..

  4. 88 December 25, 2021 6:39 pm

    Wow.. You so angry buddy. No worries I’ll be over soon to give you your daily dose of vitamin D to calm your nerves….😂😂

  5. HailFromDaNorth December 26, 2021 6:29 pm

    Pakelika one word “PRIDE” some may think cockiness. We from the north will always have our PRIDE!

  6. Eddie K December 29, 2021 2:48 pm

    Parcaylicka sounds like a disgruntled loser on a team with a 35 pt. spread lost

  7. Pakelika December 29, 2021 9:38 pm

    Eddie K offers no intelligent, merit based argument as a rebuttal to what Pakelika stated earlier. What Eddie did offer was nothing more than an ad hominem (the crude attempt to misspell and parody the name Pakelika and calling Pakelika a disgruntled loser) attack. Clearly, Eddie cannot think of any substantial argument to rebut, much less refute, what Pakelika stated earlier about the foolishness and meaninglessness of predicting the future success and dominance of any one. It says something about the mentality and maturity of Eddie rather than anything else that Eddie intended to say.

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