5A football championship: Despite being undefeated, Titans are underdogs against the Beetdiggers
Ben Brewer, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — After 92 days, 267 games, 6,311 points, 220 interceptions and 417 sacks, 22 teams in the 5A classification have hung helmets and shoulder pads up for the rest of the year and only two are left standing — Jordan and Syracuse.
The Beetdiggers (11-1) and Titans (12-0) will look to engrave their names in championship immortality Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"I think we need to continue to be a physical team and get after it up front on both sides. It's going to be one of those games where the other team is going to be ready to go," Jordan coach Eric Kjar said after practice on Monday. "Syracuse does a good job of that anyway when you watch them on film. They're a gritty team that plays real hard and they're physical, too. I think that's the key to the game is to see whose going to be more physical and mistake free."
Syracuse, undefeated while averaging a 23-point margin of victory this season, enters as field goal underdogs.
Syracuse senior receiver, Diante Mitchell — who came inches short of sending the Titans to the state championship last year in the semifinals — knows that the ante has been raised.
"It's a pretty big game, but I wouldn't want it any other way," he said. "Every senior wants to be playing in this game, and we're fortunate enough to be able to play in it."
In order for the Titans to experience a celebratory police escorted bus ride home, they'll need to stifle Jordan's potent offense — something no team has yet to accomplish this season.
"I think if everyone does their jobs and executes what they've been taught, I think that we could actually shut 'em down," said Syracuse junior defensive end Jace Purser. "That's what we did against Bingham (in last week's 21-16 semifinal win)."
The Beetdiggers averaged 46.6 points per game, nearly 14 points more than the Miners while leading the state in scoring.
Jordan has the ability to find pay dirt in a multitude of ways with over 6,000 yards of total offense behind arguably the best front five in the state.
Through the air, Austin Kafentzis distributes passes equally to Mason Krueger, Nick West and Adreil Jefferson. On the ground, Kafentzis and Clay Moss have teamed up for 40 rushing touchdowns, while Dezmond Carter and Jerome Bettis Vaituu spell carries occasionally.
The positive news for the Titans is they're finally getting healthy. Two-way starters Jake Garver, Koa Mo'o and Kavika Fonua are all expected to play after practicing the entire week. Garver and Mo'o sustained concussions and Fonua severely sprained his ankle.
Jordan is trying to win its first state championship since 1994 and its 12th overall since opening its doors in 1909. A win would mark the first state championship in school history for Syracuse.
5A on the air
Syracuse vs. Jordan
Today, 2:30 p.m.
Parry's Power: Jordan by 3
NOTE: For live updates and stats in the 5A state championship between Jordan and Syracuse follow @tphibbsami on Twitter.
Scoring offense: 32.1 ppg
Scoring defense: 9.2 ppg
Passing leader: Brock Anderson (143-207, 69.1%, 1,850 yards, 25 TDs, 4 INTs)