High school football: Syracuse O-line could play vital role in 5A title game against Jordan
Cardon Malan, a 6-2, 240-pound offensive tackle and defensive end, said the key to Friday's title matchup is for the Titans to just play the way they always do.
"We all just need to play our game, do our assignments, make no mistakes, no turnovers," he said. "And I think, if we do all that, we'll be good.
"That (Bingham win) gave us a ton of confidence. For a sophomore (Tracy) to step it up like that, and to get a 'W' like that in his first game playing against Bingham in the semifinals, that just makes us all feel secure with him.
"Basically, if we stop No. 2 and No. 5 (running back Clay Moss), we'll do good,” Malan said. "No. 2 is Kafentzis, the quarterback — he can run; he can throw; he can do it all. He's quite the athlete. If we stop him, we'll be in good hands. He's an athlete; he can run. We've got to put pressure on him, put a spy on him, just try to contain him."
Malan's running mate at offensive tackle, 6-2, 245-pound junior Braiden Tovey, admitted that he's "never experienced a championship game before, not even in little league or anything, so it's just an unreal feeling. I'm very excited about it.
"You always expect you have a good enough team. You always hope you have a good enough team. I think at the beginning of the year, we really came together and felt like we were gonna get here. (We've been) playing together, playing hard, doing all of our assignments, doing what we've got to do and getting it done.
"Now we've just got to keep your head in the game, don't get sidetracked, just know what you've got to do on every play," Tovey said. "Play together, play hard, run to the ball — I think we can do it. We need to play how we normally do. Everybody's got to get their assignment down, and I think we'll do good. If everybody does their assignment, we'll stop 'em. They're a pretty strong team all around as far as I can tell, but we're a strong team, too, so it's gonna be a good game."
The final member of the Titans' front five on the interior of the offensive line, 6-foot, 240-pound junior offensive guard Kaden Craig, attributed the team's success to a "combination of hard work, talent and coaching, and I think we have a very good combination of those three."
He said the Syracuse squad is not only confident but, perhaps more importantly, just hates the thoughts of losing after they've come this far.
"I think we have an attitude that we can't lose — we can't stand losing," Craig said. "For me, it's not that I want to win so bad, it's just that I can't look at the guy across from me and say he beat me. It's one of those attitudes that this team has — everybody, from the seniors on down to the freshmen.
"We've got to hold their offense down. We've got to put up points — it's very simple. That's the game plan for every game. They've got a lot of good skill kids, and we've got to make sure that we account for everybody that's there."
He said Region 1 often gets overlooked when it comes time to rank the state's top 5A teams, and he thinks that's a mistake.
"We have just as good a teams that come out of there," Craig said, "and we can play with the best of 'em."
On Friday, the 2012 Titans will get their opportunity to prove that's true one last time.