Prep football • The Beetdiggers will be trying for their first state title since 1994.
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Sandy • The Jordan football team was getting antsy Wednesday afternoon.
Friday seemed too far away, too much time to wait to have a chance at the championship. Gazing at his own home field that still had snow piled around its edges, senior linebacker Tyler Swan wished the Beetdiggers could have it out right then, right there.
"It's hard to be patient," he said. "We've come so close before. We're getting antsy to get out there and show them how good we are."
It's telling that even though Jordan is in the championship this week, the Beetdiggers still cite doubters and critics despite being the wire-to-wire No.1-ranked team in 5A this season. They say they're out to prove people wrong, that their nationally ranked team still has more respect to earn.
In a program that hasn't won a state title since 1994, when a good chunk of its team wasn't yet born, a chip on one's shoulder is a heralded quality. Until that trophy is in their hands, the Beetdiggers constantly will be battling their demons.
Those demons may be as subtle as a whisper.
"There's a lot of kids at my church from Alta, and they say stuff," Swan said. "All I hear is, 'We should have beaten you. You guys aren't that good.' And I'm just ready for that to be over."
It's hard to picture who has doubted Jordan, a team that has gotten national acclaim this season. Quarterback Austin Kafentzis was Maxpreps.com's national freshman of the year, and the Beetdiggers consistently have been ranked in the top 100 this year.
Perhaps it's natural for a team that was overshadowed by neighboring football powers Alta and Bingham until the past few years. It seems almost reasonable for a program that just beat the Hawks for the first time in seven years in September.
Take B.J. Cavendar, for example, who has started for four years on the offensive line. Ever since dropping a first-round playoff game to Bingham as a freshman, he's seen gradual improvement. He literally has been at the front of a steady climb for the Jordan program. And he takes no step for granted.
"A lot of this is about the experience we have," the hulking senior center said. "We've all been to the semifinals, we know what it's like at Rice-Eccles Stadium. And we know what it's like to lose there. And we don't want that this year."
Last season's four-point heartbreaker was devastating to a team that was peaking at the right time. But the Beetdiggers took off only two weeks before getting back to the weight room. They promised each other they'd win a title together.
Even now, as Jordan reaps the recognition it has worked for, the players stay motivated by finding the spots they think fans take for granted. One of the overshadowed areas of the team, for example, might be a defense that has held opposing offenses to 7, 13 and 14 points so far this postseason.
Mori Savini, a junior who leads the eight Beetdiggers with multiple sacks this year, just shrugs. At Jordan, players always are looking for motivation. And going against a Syracuse defensive line that wants to call itself the state's best is enough fuel for him.
"People are going to doubt us and what we're doing," he said, repeating that old Beetdigger saying. "We're just going to do our jobs."