Jaguars football team making an impact
The defensive front line for the West Jordan Jaguars is causing mayhem on opposing quarterbacks. (Shelly Oliverson/West Jordan football)
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By Greg James | firstname.lastname@example.org
West Jordan, Utah - The West Jordan High School football has returned to relevance in their region and in the state. Second-year head coach Mike Meifu has his players believing they can compete.
“Things are going really well,” Meifu said. “It has been a positive season. The kids have set a higher standard for themselves and are having fun at the same time. This is just the start for us. We have talked about competing with some of the top teams in the state. They have responded well to that.”
The Jaguars finished the regular season with a record of 8-2, including 4-2 in Region 3. The Jaguars placed third in region and qualified for the state tournament for the second straight year. Last season was the team’s first playoff appearance in three years. They lost to Lone Peak 53-6.
The Jaguars insurgence directly relates to the play they have received from the quarterback position. Through eight games, senior Dylan Krans had thrown for 1,967 yards and 24 touchdowns. In his high school career, he has thrown for more than 3,600 yards.
“There is no question Dylan is a leader,” Meifu said. “He is part of what makes our offense work. He has a skinny frame, but his arm is his strength. He can chuck the ball around. He throws it easily 50–60 yards downfield and on target. He also runs well. We use him in some designed quarterback runs, and he can scramble well if there is nothing open.”
Krans has taken the snap from center Fitu Kaivelata since little league. Meifu calls his center the heartbeat of the team.
“As the center he is overlooked by the stats,” Meifu said. “He (Kaivelata) brings the energy. No question he is a leader too. Between him and Dylan they play the most important positions on the offense. When our o-line is working, it gives Dylan time to find the playmakers downfield.”
Seniors Mack Wakley and Tanner Petersen lead the team in receptions. Petersen has nine touchdowns.
The eight wins in 2016 tops last season’s five. Meifu said the team goal is one step forward from last season, a playoff game victory. The Jaguars recorded the school’s first ever victory over Brighton High School Oct. 7, 31-10.
“Last season we just scratched the surface,” Meifu said. “This year, we have already surpassed that. The guys have responded. They trust the program and their teammates.”
Despite difficult losses to Bingham, 51-21, and Jordan, 41-35, the team has shown improvement.
The play of the defensive line for the Jaguars has provided a solid base. Senior Alden Tofa has become an important leader on that line. Seniors Austin Leausa and Noah Kinikini, with junior Eastin Watts, anchor the defensive line attacking the opposing quarterbacks.
The quarterback pressure the defensive line gets allows the secondary to make plays down field. Junior Jacob Yada has six interceptions, a school record and the second most in the state.
“The defense is assignment-sound, and the line gets good pressure on the quarterback,” Meifu said.
The state tournament is scheduled to begin Oct. 28-29. The championship game will be held Nov. 18 at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“The core of this team has played together for a long time,” Meifu said. “You do not see that anymore with open enrollment and transfers. They are fun to be around and work extremely hard and push each other. They all had opportunities to go to other schools, but they stuck together and that is what we see now.”