The grin evaporated from Jordan quarterback Austin Kafentzis' face, and his eyes narrowed as he explained from where the Beetdiggers drew their motivation heading into the Class 5A title game.
Minutes before, Jordan had put the finishing touches on a 58-2 beatdown of Syracuse on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, capping a dominant season from the Beetdiggers in which they beat every in-state opponent they faced.
If there was any doubt about which was the best football team in Class 5A, the Beetdiggers ended it.
"[Syracuse] said a lot of stuff in the papers," Kafentzis said. "We didn't get interviewed, we didn't say anything because we didn't want to get our heads too big. They were saying how they wanted to show how the north can play. We used that as fire."
The fire was clear from the beginning. Jordan's offense came out swinging, and the defense was swarming. One play into the second quarter, the Beetdiggers had opened up a 30-0 lead.
"We didn't play 100 percent at all this whole year, but this game, I definitely think we left it all on the field," said Kafentzis, who also called Syracuse a "phenomenal team." "We're not going home with any regrets."
Kafentzis, a sophomore who started last year as a freshman, maneuvered the Beetdiggers' offense like a veteran, leading it to the second-highest point total ever in a Utah state championship game. The dual-threat quarterback finished with 237 yards and three touchdowns through the air on 11-for-15 passing. He added 42 yards and three scores on the ground.
"Austin's a great leader," said Jordan running back Clay Moss, who supplemented Kafentzis' efforts with 134 yards and two touchdowns. "He doesn't seem like a sophomore to me. He seems like a senior with his leadership, and having him right by me every play is great. He's got a great future ahead of him."
The defense was equally effective. With Syracuse missing quarterback Brock Anderson, the Beetdiggers held the Titans to just 62 yards of total offense, the fewest in a Utah title game since 1976.
"It's a great feeling knowing we made a statement today," Moss said. "We're just all family, and we deserved this today."
Jordan was considered the title favorite before the season started, and Kafentzis said cashing in on that preseason potential was a prize the Beetdiggers didn't take for granted.
"We saw that we were ranked No. 1 at the beginning of the season," Kafentzis said. "We didn't use it as 'since they're naming us No. 1, now we can just not [work hard].' We had to keep doing it."