We just have to go out there and play our game. We are really technically sound, we have great coaches who put us in the positions we need to be, we don’t need to be the biggest guys, we just have to be the guys who know how to get to the spots. —Austin Kafentzis
SANDY — Just two weeks into the season, an already-defending 5A state champion Jordan faces arguably its most difficult test of the football season in Week 2.
Not only will the Beetdiggers be out of their element playing 725 miles away in San Diego, but they’ll be facing a very, very, very motivated and ticked off Cathedral Catholic squad.
Just like East and Timpview last season, Cathedral Catholic was embroiled in an ineligible player controversy in 2012 — but the appeals process wasn’t nearly as kind. After posting an 8-2 regular-season record, the Dons were forced to forfeit all 10 games in the week leading up to the playoffs, officially finishing the season 0-10.
Cathedral Catholic’s returning starters have been itching for a chance to play again for 10 months, and Jordan is who they want to unleash their frustration on this Friday.
Jordan heads into the game ranked No. 25 nationally by MaxPreps, and could have a slight edge after knocking off some of the rust in a 40-12 Week 1 win over Fremont.
Austin Kafentzis believes a lot of the question marks surrounding his team were answered during the opening week, and he’s excited about competing against one of San Diego’s best.
“You never know with those Catholic schools cause they’re allowed to scholarship kids,” said Kafentzis. “St. John Bosco (Calif.) went from being an average team the year before to winning their conference last year, so we don’t know what we’re going to get when we get out there.”
St. John Bosco handed Jordan its only loss last season — a 34-33 setback at Rio Tinto Stadium — and Kafentzis said he’s preparing for another grind.
“We just have to go out there and play our game. We are really technically sound, we have great coaches who put us in the positions we need to be, we don’t need to be the biggest guys, we just have to be the guys who know how to get to the spots,” Kafentzis said.
The biggest question heading into the season was how Jordan would cope with the graduation of all five offensive lineman from a year ago. After racking up 611 yards in total offense against Fremont — more than last year’s opener — it looks like the ‘Diggers will be just fine.
Defense is what could ultimately could give Jordan an edge in San Diego this weekend and in Utah the remainder of the season.
“I think our defense looks better than last year. We have a lot of kids that are stepping up,” Kafentzis said. “Linebacker spot is filling up well — the defense is coming together and we’re trying to create an identity right now.”
Defensive end Christian Shaver, who committed to Colorado on Wednesday, said Jordan was in midseason form in Week 1, and said last year’s team wasn’t that dominant until the playoffs.
“I just loved how we all hustled to the ball — all of us had energy the entire game 100 percent,” Shaver said. “If we go out to California and prove that we can play, I think it will be hard for any team to beat us.”
If all goes well in San Diego, Jordan will return with a 2-0 record and camaraderie that makes it the early favorite to repeat as 5A state champs.
“We were tight last year. I think this year’s team is a lot closer than it was last year. We have each other's backs, and when you have each other's backs, that’s when you start doing something special; you come together, you play for each other instead of yourself,” Kafentzis said.