Kragthorpe: East win battle of Wisconsin-bound players
By Kurt Kragthorpe
Tribune ColumnistFirst published Sep 06 2013 10:42PM
Someday, Kyle and Austin Kafentzis will enjoy watching Ula Tolutau run like crazy.
Friday night was another story entirely.
Tolutau, East’s powerful running back, tormented Jordan defensive coordinator Kyle Kafentzis in a 59-36 road victory. The Leopards’ overwhelming offensive performance topped everything that Beetdiggers quarterback Austin Kafentzis could do.
The two star players have pledged to become University of Wisconsin teammates, so there’s some consolation for Jordan’s father-son duo after East’s ransacking in Sandy.
The Leopards racked up 590 total yards — in the first half. Tolutau’s 287 rushing yards and three touchdowns spurred East, The Tribune’s No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, to a 52-30 halftime lead.
Think about this: Last year, East held a 28-27 edge over Jordan when the game was halted late in the third quarter because of a fire in an electrical room at East’s stadium. So in not quite five quarters over two seasons, the Leopards scored 80 points.
Tolutau topped the 300-yard mark with only his 16th carry of the night on East’s first possession of Friday’s third quarter. He left the game for good after sustaining a minor injury on a play when seven Jordan defenders took their shots at bringing him down and finally succeeded.
By then, Tolutau done sufficient damage to the Beetdiggers’ defense, which allowed 784 total yards in the game.
Kafentzis ran for 198 yards and three scores himself in the first half, but he also threw three interceptions and was stripped of the ball on a running play, resulting in an East touchdown.
Jordan’s defensive nightmare was beyond anything that seemed imaginable for Class 5A’s reigning state champions, ranked No. 4 this week. The Beetdiggers had allowed 38 points in a loss to powerful Cathedral Catholic in San Diego last week, which seems like a big number — except that East matched that total midway through Friday’s second quarter.
And even while the Leopards dominated Alta in a season opener, their 42-point showing now seems modest.
The thing is, Tolutau is not East’s only offensive threat. The versatile Preston Curtis ran for touchdowns of 75 and 63 yards and quarterback Isaac Valles ran the offense smoothly, complementing the inside running of Tolutau, whose 322-yard night was highlighted by a 92-yard TD run.
The last time Austin Kafentzis and the Beetdiggers played in a high-profile game in Utah, the performance required a disclaimer. "It wasn’t easy," Kafentzis insisted, amid all appearances to the contrary.
Jordan racked up 51 points and 398 total yards in the first half and Kyle Kafentzis’ defense was equally dominant on the way to a 58-2 pounding of Syracuse in the 5A championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
With two more prep seasons ahead of him, Austin Kafentzis said his remaining goals would include a quest to "prove that I’m not just a high school quarterback."
Wisconsin and other schools already validated that status with scholarship offers, enabling Kafentzis to concentrate on helping his teammates try to win more state titles. There’s nothing easy about that pursuit.
In that sense, something Kafentzis said after a semifinal win over Lone Peak last November is telling: "I couldn’t have done it myself."
That’s not necessarily what he’s being asked to do this season, but the degree of difficulty is definitely higher for Kafentzis, with an inexperienced offense around him.
After the loss in San Diego, plenty of questions hovered above the Beetdiggers this week. The answers that East provided were not encouraging. Jordan can only hope there’s nobody like the Leopards in 5A.