The most talked about high school football game in Utah last season was a game you won’t find any record of in the stats or standings.
The highly anticipated preseason showdown between 4A’s East and 5A’s Jordan was halted with 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter because of an electrical fire, and was never completed. East led 28-27 at the time, and controversy ensued in the weeks after about whether the game would be made up, whether East should be credited with the win, and whether the stats should count.
Based partly on the impact a loss would have on the national rankings, Jordan refused to let it go into the record books as a loss, desperately wanting to resume the game. East, meanwhile, was indifferent about finishing it.
After the UHSAA weighed in, both parties agreed to abandon the game. It’s as if it never happened.
A year later, the schools finally get their rematch as Jordan hosts East at 7 p.m. this Friday night.
“I know there was a lot of bad blood in terms of not finishing that game, and people were frustrated, on both sides, and we’re excited to get out and play that football game,” said East coach Brandon Matich.
Through three quarters last year, the East-Jordan game was shaping up to be an instant classic between two power running football teams with dominant offensive lines. The game was tied at 7-7, 14-14, 21-21 and then would’ve been tied 28-28 had Jordan not missed an extra point on the final play before the Salt Lake City Fire Department ordered an evacuation of the stadium.
“It’s an unbelievable game. I think the fans are getting out of it what they hoped they’d get out of it,” said Matich at the time.
Despite personnel turnover because of graduation, Matich expects another smash-mouth football game.
“Any time you’re playing Austin Kafentzis, you’re bound to have a competitive football game,” said Matich.
Kafentzis topped 150 rushing yards before the game was halted last season as he flourished running behind a dominant offensive line. All five of those starters graduated, and their absence was certainly noticeable as Jordan was humbled 38-6 in San Diego last weekend to Cathedral Catholic.
Reigning Mr. Football winner Kafentzis endured one of the most frustrating games of his career with just 38 rushing yards and two interceptions, and you can bet he’ll be more motivated than ever in the long-awaited rematch.
While Jordan’s offensive line has been up and down through two weeks with a 1-1 record, East’s O-line has exceeded expectations with victories over Alta and Kahuku, Hawaii, to start the season.
“We had such a strong O-line last year, and you don’t know how those guys are going to step in and fill those spots the next year,” said Matich. “We have two young tackles and they grow a little bit more every week. That’s been a positive, lining up against Alta, lining up against Kahuku, and being able to win and doing a good job offensively is a credit to that offensive line.”
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company