Kragthorpe: Jordan’s dominant finish may be just the start
Underclassmen show promise to carry Beetdiggers in future.

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: November 19, 2012 07:19PM
Updated: March 6, 2013 11:33PM
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Kurt Kragthorpe

Soon after the Class 5A championship game ended Friday, the Rice-Eccles Stadium scoreboard was reset to 0-0, with the names of the 4A finalists.

Even so, those previous numbers will resonate for a long, long time: Jordan 58, Syracuse 2.

So after Jordan produced the second-biggest winning margin in a state final, anyone would have to wonder how it happened. How could Jordan possibly score 58 points in a game like this?

Easy explanation: Syracuse held the Beetdiggers to seven points in the second half.

Actually, while such a rout always takes some cooperation from both teams, the best answer is that Jordan was just that good.

“No matter what we did or what we tried, it didn’t seem to work,” said Syracuse coach Russ Jones.

The Titans’ struggles continued a trend of northern Utah teams losing in 5A title games, following Davis in 2009 and Fremont the past two years. Syracuse also was using a fill-in quarterback, after the starter was injured in the quarterfinals.

Yet none of those other teams was overwhelmed to this degree, and no mitigating factors should discount Jordan’s historic postseason showing. In four playoff games, the Beetdiggers never allowed more than 14 points, while winning by an average score of 49-9.

“We just want to be nasty out there,” said Zach Larsen, who was credited with 2.5 sacks defensively and also anchored Jordan’s powerful offensive line.

Afterward, Larsen and other linemen celebrated by lying on the block “U” in the middle of the field. Quarterback Austin Kafentzis cradled the state championship trophy while doing interviews, jokingly complaining about that task.

“It’s freakin’ heavy,” he said, “but it’s nice.”

He probably better get used to it. He’s a sophomore; several other Jordan stars, including running back Clay Moss, receiver Mason Krueger and lineman Mori Savini and Emmitt Lee-Sang, are juniors.

Kafentzis is promising to get even better “and prove that I’m not just a high school quarterback,” he said, and he undoubtedly will. Having won its first title since 1994, Jordan is positioned to become the next Alta or Bingham in 5A, stringing together multiple championships.

The Beetdiggers were not making any promises along those lines Friday, but they said enough for 2012. “We made a statement today,” Moss said. “I hope everyone around the state sees that.”

The Beetdiggers’ dominance was such that they scored touchdowns on all seven first-half possessions, not counting the final play. By halftime, Jordan had posted 398 total yards (to Syracuse’s 22) and taken a 51-0 lead.

Those statistics are nothing new for Jordan, except that Syracuse’s defense was supposed to be different. Only one opponent had scored more than 16 points against the Titans all season.

“It wasn’t easy,” Kafentzis insisted, but the Beetdiggers sure made it look that way.

It should be pointed out that Jordan’s approach was relentless in the first half, when Kafentzis accounted for 265 yards and six touchdowns via running and passing and Moss rushed for 133 yards. Then again, the Beetdiggers backed off in the second half, when they could have racked up all kinds of numbers.

The Jordan defense’s performance matched the offense’s. Syracuse’s longest drive covered 18 yards. Thanks largely to seven sacks, the Titans rushed for minus-5 yards.

“I’ve got a bunch of stress off me right now,” said Jordan coach Eric Kjar. “When you have a good team like this, you want to make sure you capitalize and finish the right way.”

The Beetdiggers gave him absolutely nothing to worry about Friday.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt