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High school football: Jordan Beetdiggers 2013 preview

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14 2013 10:05 p.m. MDT

Utah State High School 5A Football semifinal between Lone Peak and Jordan in Rice-Eccles Stadium, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

Note: Jordan finished with a 12-1 overall record in 2013 was first in Region 3 with a 5-0 record. It beat Syracuse 58-2 in the 5A state championship game.

SANDY— The planets aligned in 2012, and Jordan's football team delivered one of the best seasons the state of Utah has ever witnessed en route to drubbing Syracuse in the 5A state championship game.

It was a perfect storm, but as is always the case — every storm eventually subsides. The Beetdiggers lost all five of their offensive linemen up front along with their entire receiving corps. Accordingly, the defending champions enter the season as the No. 4-ranked team in the Deseret News 5A poll.

However, with the top two offensive players returning (quarterback and running back), coupled with a ferocious defense, Jordan has every reason to believe it will return to the 5A semifinals for the fourth-consecutive season.

“It’s tough,” Jordan coach Eric Kjar said. “The main thing is to just work hard. I don’t know if you expect each team to be like another team. I think we’re going to be a little bit different, but you still expect them to work hard, and make sure they’re bringing it at practice.”

The Beetdiggers have already put their rings in the jewelry box. Last season is a distant memory, and this group is striving to create its own identity.

“It’s much different,” Kjar said. “We still have a few captains back, but we have some new leaders. Hopefully it comes out and works well for us.”

Back in the fold is reigning Deseret News Mr. Football Austin Kafentzis. The Wisconsin commit carries the honor and burden of being the most recognizable name in Utah high school football.

In only two years, Kafentzis has been named Deseret News first-team all-state as a freshman; Mr. Football as a sophomore; National Freshman and Sophomore of the Year by MaxPreps; and second-team All-America by USA Today in 2012.

“He’s worked a lot on his speed, so I think that part he’s got a lot better on,” Kjar said of Kafentzis. “He’s definitely a lot faster than he was last year. He’s working on his reads and understanding the game better, so I think he’ll improve there, too.”

It’s conceivable that in two years Kafentzis will have rewritten every significant passing and rushing record in state history. He’s currently 4,906 yards and 47 touchdowns behind the high passing marks of Mountain Crest’s Alex Kuresa, and only 3,803 yards behind Kuresa’s total offense record. On the ground, he’s 2,597 yards behind the record of Granger’s Fahu Tahi and 26 touchdowns behind the record of Grantsville’s Alan Mouritsen.

Meanwhile, star Clay Moss also returns at running back after scooting for 1,111 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2012. As the new additions on offense acclimate to the speed of varsity competition, Jordan will rely heavily on Moss' production.

“Really important,” Kjar said of Moss when asked about the early portion of the season. “It’s nice having him back, and just the experience and what he brings physically. It helps a ton.”

Jordan Beetdiggers at a glance

Coach: In four years, Eric Kjar has a 38-13 record with three semifinal appearances and a state title with Jordan. He’s a graduate from Kemmerer High in Wyoming and Wayne State (Mich.).

Offense

(4 returning starters; spread offense)

Replacing one of the best starting front fives in history is obviously the main point of emphasis going forward. Right now, several players are contending for opening night roles, but Kjar highlighted Alex Kabwere (left tackle), Spencer Hallings (right tackle) and Parker Williams (center).

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