Austin Kafentzis is about the closest thing to a "can't miss" quarterback prospect as you can find. The Sandy (Utah) Jordan High junior is a ripped 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds. He bench presses 350 pounds and cruised to national acclaim as the MaxPreps freshman and sophomore national player of the year. In June he committed to Wisconsin, choosing the Badgers over scholarship offers from Utah and BYU and interest from programs including Alabama, Florida State and USC.
Now we know that Kafentzis knows how to channel his emotion into results on the field after an inspiring opening night performance while dealing with immense grief.
As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Kafentzis' grandmother passed away just hours before Jordan's first game of the 2013 campaign against Plain City (Utah) Fremont High. The quarterback almost single-handedly piloted the Beetdiggers to a 40-12 win, helping Jordan break open a 6-6 tie at halftime while passing for 305 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for an additional 112 yards and even recorded the first three interceptions of his career on the defensive side of the ball.
Clearly, Kafentzis' performance would have turned heads even under the best of conditions, but that was hardly the mental state the quarterback was facing. The junior was close to his late grandmother, and Jordan coach Eric Kjar said it was clear that his team's superstar was coping with an emotionally trying situation, even though Kafentzis didn't let his mental struggles show.
"It was a very emotional day for him," Kjar told the Tribune. "That’s just how he is. His ability doesn’t ever surprise me. He helps break guys in."
Moments after the game, Kafentzis was still focused on his team, a fitting tribute to his leadership.
"It was a long offseason and we were anxious for the first game. We got the nerves out of our system. We came together as a team.
"I'm happy our team took it in a positive way than a negative way," he said. "I'm just happy that we improved. We gained from it."