High school football: Jordan Beetdiggers 2012 preview

Published: Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

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Note: Jordan finished with a 10-3 overall record and tied for second in Region 3 with a 3-2 record in 2011. It lost to Lone Peak, 45-41, in the 5A semifinals.

SANDY — There’s no way to know if Jordan High would’ve survived to beat Lone Peak in last year’s 5A semifinal had freshman quarterback Austin Kafentzis not broken his collarbone midway through the second quarter.

Jordan led 13-3 at the time, and back-up Baron Bajkowski more than held his own leading the offense. It was Jordan’s defense that couldn’t get stops as Lone Peak won 45-41 on its way to an undefeated state championship season.

With the way last season ended, the Beetdiggers can’t help but feel they have some unfinished business heading into the 2012 season.

With all five starters on the offensive lineman returning along with Kafentzis, the reigning MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year, many believe Jordan is a dark horse to claim the 5A title this season.

“Our goal is always to win a state championship, but this year we really feel like we should be good and we should be there. And if we work hard we should put ourselves in a position to win a state championship,” said coach Eric Kjar.

Those elevated expectations have everything to do with the continuity of the offense, and it starts in the trenches with returning starters B.J. Cavender, Zach Larsen, Tyshon Mosley, Ian Moes and Aarron Reupena.

The quintet paved the way for Kafentzis’ dominant freshman season, and Kjar said they’ve worked hard throughout the offseason to get stronger and improve their technique. Kafentzis feels so comfortable with his line, he’d be surprised if he gets sacked all year.

While that’s probably unrealistic, what is realistic is to expect an even better sophomore season.

“I feel a lot more comfortable 'cause I’ve been in the system a whole year,” he said. “Everything is starting to become second nature.”

Last year the freshman completed 212-of-366 passes for 3,188 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,377 yards and 21 touchdowns. The obvious weak spot was his 19 interceptions, but 13 of those picks came in the first seven games of the year.

The coaching staff limited the running plays for Kafentzis early in the season, but once they took off his training wheels midway through the season, his rushing yards and passing efficiency went up, while his interceptions went down.

Kafentzis still needs to improve his accuracy, but Kjar said he’s making the right reads and there’s no limitations on the playbook this year. There might be a bit of an adjustment period while Jordan breaks in a new core of wide receivers, but the potential is there for them to be even better than last year’s group.

Kjar has no doubt everything will come together.

“He’s the type of kid that’s always working to get better, so I just think he’s going to continue to improve throughout his high school career. I think he’ll be turned loose a little bit more offensively than he was last year,” said Kjar.

It’s ironic Jordan’s defense broke down in the semifinals last year, because that was arguably the most consistent part of the team. The ‘Diggers surrendered 16 ppg, and only gave up more than 21 points twice prior to getting lit up by Lone Peak.

Six of those starters are returning, and Jordan should be even better this year.

“I think we have a chance to be our best defense this year, and I think a lot of it is the kids' familiarity with the scheme and our defensive staff,” said Kjar.