High school football: Tradition-rich Davis is on the verge of becoming the winningest program in state's history
Howard "Tuff" Leonard guided the Darts to their second state title in 1943, and Lee Liston, who won 70 games in 13 seasons, won another one in 1949. Gerald Purdy's teams won 67 games over a 10-year stretch, claiming another state championship in 1965.
Jay Cullimore took the reins in 1969 and went on to win 74 games and state titles in 1974 and '76 — the only Davis head coach to win more than one during the height of the Darts' famed double-wing offense — during his own stellar 10-year run.
Ward Sawley posted the best winning percentage (.782) of all time by a coach in his five years (1979-83) at the Davis High helm, and his teams won or shared the region title in all five of those seasons — five of the 28 total region championships the school has won or shared in football. And Sawley's successor, Jim Dickson had the longest tenure (17 years, from 1984-2000) and most victories (108) of any head coach.
All of the school's former head coaches are being honored at the Darts' home games during the course of this season.
Which brings us to coach Bishop, who has 82 wins in his 12-plus seasons and whose team won the school's seventh state championship in 2004. He feels humble, blessed and proud to be a part of the Darts' dynamic winning tradition.
And this year, along with their quest to "Defend the Tradition," he has added another great goal for his team — to "enhance the tradition."
"One of the things I talked to my team about was, sure, it's really cool to have all the tradition we have here, but what are we gonna do to enhance the tradition?" Bishop said. "We can't always ride on the coattails of everybody else, we've got to establish our own identity. We need to leave our own mark. And our football kids have bought into that — it's not enough just to defend the tradition, but they want to strive to leave their own mark.
"Whenever you talk about the traditions at Davis High School, it's so important to talk about the people here — the administration, the teachers, the students. Everyone here strives to be their best and to find ways to get better. They keep pushing the envelope and trying to improve whenever and wherever they can.
"Everybody feels that sense of community, trying to be the best that they can be in the classroom and in athletics," he said. "The administration has been phenomenal in supporting the teachers and coaches, which helps us attract really good coaches who are really good teachers as well. And our community is so supportive of all the programs here. If you go to the school musical in the middle of winter, it's packed. If you go to a band concert, you can't find a seat. People who don't have kids playing here any more still come to the school and support everything it does."
All of that has helped make it a dream job for Bishop, who realizes that other schools may also possess similar traditions and community spirit that surround Davis High. He's quick to point out that anyone who thinks the Kaysville school might have a superiority attitude is mistaken.
"It's not that anyone at Davis thinks they're better or superior than any other school," he said. "We have so much respect for other schools and teams and activities throughout the state, because I'm sure other schools are doing the same things we are at Davis. It's not matter of arrogance. From the inside looking out, I sure don't see that.
"We just feel like there's a great sense of tradition and pride that need to be upheld here because of so many other generations who have come through that school and have accomplished so much."