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5A high school football preview: Pleasant Grove at Jordan

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25 2012 12:22 p.m. MDT

Jordan plays St. John Bosco in the Xfinity High School Football Challenge at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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Pleasant Grove (6-4) at Jordan (8-1)

5A state tournament first round

Friday, 4 p.m.

Parry’s Power Guide: Jordan by 26

All-time series: Pleasant Grove leads 6-2

Coach vs. coach: Pleasant Grove’s Les Hamilton leads Jordan’s Eric Kjar, 2-0 — both meetings occurred when Hamilton was at Alta in 2009 and 2010

Last meeting: Sept. 1, 2011 — Jordan 32, Pleasant Grove 0

SANDY — Throughout the entire year Jordan has been far and away the most explosive team in the 5A ranks. The ‘Diggers are one of only two programs in the classification that can even make a case for the overall No.1 seed.

Offensively, the Gold Dots create a myriad of problems for opposing defenses and it all starts with sophomore quarterback Austin Kafentzis.

Under his guidance Jordan (8-1) has eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark through the air and on the ground, totaling 4,609 yards from scrimmage. The try-not-to-blink-you-might-miss-something-special offense will take center stage at Jordan High Friday against Pleasant Grove (6-4) at 4 p.m.

The Vikings, which had an opportunity to clinch the No.1 seed in Region 4 if it defeated Bingham the final week of the season, are not a typical four seed. But that doesn’t stop the team from being more than three-touchdown underdogs.

“Nobody but us expects us to come in and win. But that’s not a bad position to be in. To come in and to be care-free and say, ‘Look lets go out and play as hard as we can.’ We got to execute at a high level offensively — we got to score points,” said Pleasant Grove coach Les Hamilton. “Defensively, we got to try and create some turnovers and slow them down a little bit and hopefully get a couple plays on special teams.

“If we can do those things, we might just find ourselves with a chance late in the game to win it,” Hamilton continued. “If not, they’re going to do what they did to everybody else and blow (us) out of the water.”

Hamilton, in his first year with the Vikings, has extensive experience playing against the Beetdiggers after coaching at Alta from 2005-10. He has an overall record of 5-1, winning the last five meetings. Hamilton, however, doesn’t believe his familiarity will play to any advantage Friday.

“I don’t know if it does to be honest with you,” he said. “They’re not going to do things that we don’t know that they’re doing. They beat you because they run the ball really well. They’ve got a really good offensive line, great running back, great quarterback and if you put too many guys in the box to stop the run, they’ve got great receivers.”

Jordan does have weaknesses, though, and has notoriously started slow in the first half, having to erase deficits in games against Kearns, Alta, Cottonwood and Brighton. The ‘Diggers ultimately won those games by a combined score of 174-100.

“We got to try and keep their offense off the field and put points up early. We’ve been good at wearing teams down late in the game,” Hamilton said. “I know they're no-huddle and we’re no-huddle and it’s been successful for us. So, late in the game I feel like we’ve been in better shape than some of the teams we’ve played, hopefully that comes into play on Friday.”

The main concern, however, isn’t about starting quickly, but rather ball security. It hasn’t factored into games thus far, but Kafentzis and Co. have had a tendency to frequently coughup the pigskin.

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