"I like where we've come to this point," Bishop said. "...One of our focuses is to try and put 'em in tough situations and competitive situations and adverse situations so that, hopefully, that first time under the lights in a little over a week, we respond in a positive way.
"I really like our defensive leaders and our defensive staff. I've probably got three of the best young coaches I've had for awhile collectively assembled on the defensive side of the ball. Our D-coordinator from a year ago, Tyler Gladwell, who's an awesome young coach and young man, took that Bonneville (head coaching) job and I was tickled to death for him to get that opportunity.
"We promoted from within and tweaked a couple of things on our defensive staff," Bishop said, "and those guys have done a really good job of preparing our kids. We have some returning experience there. Right now, I'm really hoping we can start the season with a real physical, hard-nosed defensive mentality and I'm hoping that those kids can really keep us in games, control things and do some things to put us in a position overall to have success."
Davis has installed a beautiful new artificial surface on its football field this year, and the Darts will play their first game there on Aug. 17 against Brighton.
And though there is some uncertainly surrounding the Darts' prospects for success due to their varsity inexperience, Bishop sees it as a simple formula — and one he has followed ever since he got into coaching.
"I say it every year — if we can play great defense and run the football, we're gonna have success," he said. "And as long as I'm the head coach here, that philosophy will stay intact.
"Welcome to varsity football. We've got to prepare ourselves to be at a high level right off the bat. Every day we're trying to get everybody within our program prepared for a sense of urgency, a sense of intensity, a sense of attitude, of focus, just football IQ things that I don't think can go unnoticed, things you've got to teach and coach all the time."
Davis Darts at a glance
Coach: Ryan Bishop begins his 12th season as Davis High's head coach. He has compiled a 71-52 overall record in 11 seasons at the school and a 96-61 career record in 14 seasons as a high school head coach. He is a graduate of Cedar High.
(2 returning starters; Multiple-formations offense)
With Gage Cook at the controls of an offense that has just two returning starters from last season, it may take awhile for the Darts to find their rhythm. But they've got enough potential playmakers that, once they all get in sync, they should be able to put some points on the scoreboard.
(5 returning starters; Base 4-3 defense)
The Darts' defense should be a strength, with Luke Oja and Zac Guillme anchoring the line, Jackson Peacock looking like the real deal at linebacker and Chase Godderidge and Chance Parker in the secondary. With a big part of their emphasis on putting a fierce, hard-hitting defense out on the field, Davis should be able to stay within striking distance in every game.
Coaches preseason Region 1 straw poll: Second
Deseret News Region 1 prediction: Second
Bottom line: Inexperience on the offensive side of the ball may hurt the Darts early on but, thanks to a rigorous four-game preseason schedule, they'll get their baptism by fire before league play gets under way. The Region 1 schedule certainly falls in the Darts' favor, with home games against the three teams — Syracuse, Fremont and Northridge — that are most likely going to challenge Davis for league supremacy. And the Darts seldom lose at home, where they'll have a new artificial surface to play on this season.
Aug. 17 — BRIGHTON, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 — COTTONWOOD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — at Hunter, 7 p.m.