The Marcus Mariota Cover2 Player-of-the-Year award goes to the player that best personifies all the characteristics of it’s namesake. Not only must the winner excel on the field, but more importantly, it’s how they take care of business when the Friday night lights are turned off.
Kahuku senior linebacker Liona Lefau is a perfect example all those aspects which is why he is the 2022 Marcus Mariota Award winner.
Lefau is a fearless tackler, a captain, and when called a upon can score touchdowns too. In his senior season, number-10 has amassed nearly 50 tackles, including 9 in the Open semifinal game against Campbell. What Lefau has done on the field the last two years has made him the top recruit of the c/o 2023, according to 24/7 sports. Head coach Sterling Carvalho says it’s his leadership that is most impressive which is why he is the heart and soul of the team.
“He deserves everything he’s achieved in thus far in his life because he works at it. He doesn’t just wake up on Friday morning and decide I want to play a game. He starts training all year long, every day. Every workout that there is he is the first one there and the last one leaving. Not just put in the time to develop his own craft, but also help any teammate as well. That’s why we are so good because our leader is not just leading. He’s leading by example and bringing everyone along.”
Liona helps out with film study and often times helps his teammate out with their homework or gives advice when needed. In the community, he’s always willing to serve those who have helped him become the person he is today.
“I take a lot of pride in that and how my parents raised me. Especially growing up in this community, a lot of it is family oriented, take care of one another, care for one another. Those are my brothers, so I love every single one of them. If they need help in anything, I’m able to help with, wether its football or life or school, then I’m going to help with.”
At the next level, the 4-star prospect will be stepping away from the comforts of the North Shore community and creating a new pipeline. He has over 20 offers from some of the biggest programs across the country. He could have chose Michigan, Oregon, or USC where Hawai’i players have gone before, but he chose The University of Texas. Liona will be the first from the islands to wear the icon burnt orange.
“I just want to show them that Hawai’i football is the real deal just as much as the mainland. I’ve played both so I know that Hawai’i football is the real deal, especially the North Shore. I want to show them the pride and the love not only in football but for the people,” Lefau said, “It’s a huge opportunity for me, as well as my family. It’s just a blessing because its all the hard work and dedication that went into it, many sacrifices, especially from my parents.”
Liona high school journey as taken him to the mainland and back. As a freshman, he played in California before eventually going to Washington for his sophomore season when the prep season was lost in Hawai’i. However, there was no question he would come home as soon as high school football returned.
In two season playing in front of the Red Sea, he has carved out a career that will be part of Kahuku history. Already a state champ, one win away from a second, the Cover2 Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2021, and now he finishes off his childhood dream by taking home the Marcus Mariota Cover2 Player-of-the-Year Award.
“This is my dream is to play Kahuku football. This has been my dream since I was a young kid. I use to watch my older cousins play, then I see my brothers play and I was like this is where I want to be. That’s the biggest thing for me. I just wanted to play with my family before heading to college. Now we’re just trying to basically make a name for our family.”