You're only scared when you don't know what you're doing. —Austin Kafentzis
SANDY — When Austin Kafentzis was playing little league football, his father gave the young quarterback some very simple advice — don't scramble. Kyle Kafentzis knew his son wouldn't develop as a passer if he was panicking and fleeing the pocket at the first sign of pressure.
Instinctively, it would've been easier and perhaps more advantageous for Kafentzis to scramble considering his superior athleticism, but his father was thinking long term. The youngster was instructed to hang in the pocket even if it meant getting hit.
No one could've foreseen the dramatic results that would follow just a few years later.
At a time when most kids his age were simply adjusting to the mild complexities of sophomore football, Kafentzis was busy dominating the varsity scene this past season. He racked up more than 4,500 yards of total offense and combined for 54 passing and rushing touchdowns to lead Jordan to local and national prominence.
Following a sensational season in which he led Jordan to its first state title since 1994 and a top-20 national ranking, Kafentzis has been named the Deseret News Mr. Football recipient for the 2012 season — the first sophomore in the 16-year history of the award.
For all the notoriety and accolades showered on Kafentzis the past two years — including 2011 MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year and 2012 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year — Jordan coach Eric Kjar is still amazed by Kafentzis' attitude.
"For what he's accomplished as a kid, he is so humble. It's crazy to me. I've had kids and athletes who've come through and had success and started to get a little full of themselves," said Kjar. "He doesn't think he's doing anything special or thinks he's special, he's just one of those kids that fits in with everybody."
On the field, he played at a ridiculously high level.
Showing rare poise for a high school player of any age, Kafentzis completed 190 of 294 passes for 2,860 yards and 31 touchdowns this season, including dropping his interception total from 19 his freshman year to 11 this season.
It was what he did on the ground that made defending Jordan nearly impossible. Running behind a very dominant offensive line, Kafentzis racked up 1,689 yards and 23 touchdowns on 221 carries.
"His work ethic is unmatched. I've never been around someone that works like he likes to work. He never complains, and we push them hard. He's never, ever had a problem with anything. He already wants to start lifting for next year," said Kjar.
BYU and Utah have already offered Kafentzis scholarships, and more national programs are expected to follow suit next summer.
Considering the growth physically and mentally between his freshman and sophomore seasons, it's scary to think how much better Kafentzis might be next year.
Unlike his freshman season, when Kafentzis only understood the QB portion of Jordan's playbook, this season he knew everything that was expected of his receivers, too. That knowledge will allow him to work with his receivers on his own time this offseason.
When it's all said and done, if Kafentzis stays healthy he will likely own every significant career passing and rushing record in the state record book.
Mountain Crest's Alex Kuresa owns the state record with 10,951 career passing yards and 101 touchdowns. Through two seasons, Kafentzis has 6,048 yards and 54 scores.
On the ground, Kafentzis has rushed for 3,066 yards and 44 TDs in two seasons — most on designed runs, not scrambles. Granger's Fahu Tahi owns the career rushing record with 5,663 yards, while Grantsville's Alan Mouritsen owns the career rushing TD record with 70.
Alex Kuresa owns the career total offense record with 12,917 yards, but Kafentzis is on pace to shatter that mark with 9,114 total yards at the midway point of his career.
Don't expect complacency to set in the next two years either. Kafentzis said he's always working on his footwork and his quick throwing motion that is similar to the NFL's Drew Brees.
"You can always pick up things from NFL QBs and college QBs, anyone who's above you," said Kafentzis.
He also pays particular attention to Tom Brady's throwing motion, to Robert Griffin III's pocket presence, to Michael Vick's quick exchange rate, not to mention the attributes of many others.
Every once in a while, usually while he's lying in bed, Kafentzis lets his mind wonder about all he's accomplished, and may accomplish down the road. When he's on the field though, he never gets nervous or overwhelmed about the situation.
"You're only scared when you don't know what you're doing," said Kafentzis.
Another valuable lesson Kafentzis' father taught him at a young age was preparation. He told him if you practice hard and do things the right way, instinct will take over under pressure and you'll make the right decisions.
The results so far have been off the charts.