High school football: Jordan Beetdiggers 2014 preview

Published: Saturday, Aug. 9 2014 12:30 a.m. MDT

Austin Kafentzis anticipates 2014 Jordan season

Note: Jordan finished with a 7-6 overall record in 2013 and was third in Region 3 with a 3-2 record. It lost to Brighton 44-20 in the 5A semifinals.

SANDY — Jordan football coach Eric Kjar has laid out steps for his team to follow during the 2014 season.

One step takes place in the weight room, another takes place at film sessions, and yet another takes place on the practice field.

They are steps along a path common to all Beetdigger football squads, which led to a state championship victory as recently as two seasons ago.

Kjar and his team are looking to retrace those steps.

“The biggest thing,” the coach said, “is just taking the steps like you have to every year. Every day they’ve got to come in and work hard in the weight room when we do our in-season lifting; they’ve got to work hard in practice and just improve. They can’t let practices or film sessions or lifting sessions slip by without trying to get better.”

By doing so, Kjar added, the team sets itself up for long-term success.

“Our teams that have done that in the past have done well,” he said. “If this group wants to do well, they’ve got to make sure they do that every time and not miss steps, because that’s how you get better. If they do that in practice, it’ll happen in games.”

That path and the expectations that come with following the process have been refined through successful seasons at Jordan. With approximately two weeks remaining until their first game, Kjar is pleased with all the work the Beetdiggers have done in the current offseason in all facets of the game.

“The amount of work they’ve put in,” he said when asked what's unique about this year’s team. “I think this has been by far the best attendance and work group I’ve had as far as wanting to be here and wanting to put in the time, especially grinding in the weight room and doing the things you have to do there to get yourself in a position to be there at the end.”

Much of what Jordan does throughout the season will be in preparation to perform in front of opposing crowds. The Sandy-based team opens its schedule with four road games, including a trip to Colorado. The Beetdiggers host Herriman in their first home game in the middle of September and then board the bus again for three more away games, including one at Rio Tinto Stadium, before playing the final two contests on their own turf.

A major cog in the Beetdiggers’ push forward is once again quarterback Austin Kafentzis. The Wisconsin-bound senior has already led Jordan to two 5A semifinal finishes and a 5A state championship his sophomore season. He has thrown 74 touchdowns and accumulated more than 9,000 passing yards, numbers that are eighth and second all time in state history, respectively.

“He works hard in practice and competes every day in practice, which I think is a big deal,” Kjar said of Kafentzis. “He’s more polished as far as understanding the game and reads and coverage and knowing what we want to do offensively. A lot of the kids look up to him because he’s done a lot over his career. I think he brings a lot of confidence to our team.”

Six additional returning starters — four of whom are on the offensive line — will surround Kafentzis, and five returning players will power the defense. It is a group that has high expectations for itself with goals Kjar is confident the team can reach.

“We definitely want to win a state championship and be there at the end,” he said. “I think this team has the ability to do that as long as they work hard every day in practice and do the things they need to do to get better. They’ve got to follow the steps.”

Jordan Beetdiggers at a glance