High school football: Top 10 storylines to watch heading into 2014 season (10 items)

By , Deseret News

Aug. 21, 2014

Football season is finally here.

The 122nd season of Utah high school football officially kicked off with a small-school clash at Layton Christian on Thursday, with 50 other endowment games scheduled on Friday.

Like the previous 121 seasons, there’s no shortage of optimism. An offseason of weightlifting and countless hours on the field this summer have every program believing this is their year.

For some, two or three wins would be considered a good season, while others will settle for nothing less than a state championship. To get fans geared up for what should be another fantastic season, here are 10 notable stories worth paying attention to this season.

1 of 10. Rewriting the record books

Austin Kafentzis will make his 40th start as Jordan’s starting quarterback this Friday, and by the time the 2014 season is over he’ll have realistically rewritten every career passing and rushing record in the state.

The 2012 Mr. Football winner cares more about winning another state championship his senior season, but the records are hard to ignore.

He’s already the state record holder in total offense (13,919), rushing touchdowns (75) and touchdowns responsible for (149). He’s passed for 9,024 yards in his career, and needs 1,927 more to break that record. On the ground, he has 4,895 career yards, and needs 768 more to break that record.

With seven returning starters on offense, it’s only a matter of time until the records fall, and Jordan coach Eric Kjar said Kafentzis is ready.

“He works hard in practice and competes every day in practice, which I think is a big deal,” said Kjar. “He’s more polished as far as understanding the game and reads and coverage and knowing what we wants to do offensively. A lot of the kids look up to him because he’s done a lot over his career. I think he brings a lot of confidence to our team.”

2 of 10. Familiar and unfamiliar faces

There are 20 programs under the direction of new coaches this year. For some of the rookie head coaches, Friday night will be an eye-opening experience. For some of the veterans, it’s just another day at the office.

Of the 20 new coaches, five have previous head coaching experience: Provo’s Tony McGeary (Lone Peak), Mountain View’s Louis Wong (Timpview), Lehi’s Ed Larson (most recently Timpanogos), Granger’s Mike Morgan (West Jordan) and Davis’ Tyler Gladwell (Bonneville).

McGeary and Wong each won state titles coaching at their previous talent-rich programs, but that’s not a luxury they have at Provo or Mountain View. The programs they inherited have been in the dumps, and this season and the coming years will undoubtedly be their toughest coaching tests to date.

3 of 10. Duchesne rolling along

Now it’s 48 and counting. Duchesne beat Layton Christian 20-10 in the high school football season opener on Thursday, extending its state-record winning streak to 48 straight.

The previous record was 37 by Timpview, but Duchesne blew by that record in Week 3 last season en route to its fourth-straight 1A state title.

Duchesne faces arguably its toughest test of the season next week when it hosts 2A’s North Summit, and after that it will be favored in every game the rest of the season.

According to Utah prep football historian George Felt, Duchesne’s 48-game winning streak is currently the fourth-longest in the country. Bellevue, Washington — a team that hosts Alta this season — has won 54 straight. Ithaca, Michigan, and Regina (Iowa City), Iowa, have won 56 straight.

If Duchesne ran the tables again this season, it would end the year on a 59-game winning streak.

4 of 10. National respect

A year after a perfect 14-0 season — highlighted by an impressive come-from-behind victory at Valor Christian, Colorado — the Bingham Miners begin the 2014 campaign ranked No. 23 in the country, according to USA Today.

They will get a shot at No. 1 too. In Week 3 the Miners travel to Bishop Gorman, Nevada, currently the top-ranked team in the country, according to USA Today.

Bingham is one of five top programs in Utah who take on marquee out-of-state programs this season.

Timpview travels to Mission Hills, California, in Week 2, while East hits the road to take on Valor Christian in Week 3. In Week 4, Region 3 foes Jordan and Alta will both be on the road as Jordan travels to Cherry Creek, Colorado, and Alta ventures to Bellevue, Washington, ranked 16th nationally, according to MaxPreps.

5 of 10. Fourth year’s the charm

After the 2010 season, three struggling programs turned to their roots and hired marquee names to turn their programs around.

Roy hired wildly successful coach Fred Fernandes, who was an all-state running back at Roy in 1978.

Orem turned to Tyler Anderson, someone who won a state title at Orem in 1987 and then went on to a fantastic career at BYU.

Tooele turned to Kyle Brady, the 2002 Mr. Football winner who enjoyed a solid career at the University of Utah playing for Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham.

Over the past three years, the programs have taken baby steps toward returning to relevance in their respective regions and classifications, but this could finally be the breakthrough year. Roy and Orem are both expected to contend for their region titles, while many believe Brady has positioned Tooele for similar relevance in 3AA North.

Whether 2014 proves to be the breakthrough year or not, the trio of coaches have made their alma maters respectable again.
1. cmarch37
Aug. 22, 2014

I have to disagree that a program can't be turned around over night. I've seen it happen. Also I wouldn't expect the program to drop in quality, losing to Copperhills means a very rough year for West Jordan.