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Note: Davis High finished with a 5-4-1 overall record and was third in Region 1 with a 3-2 record in 2011. It lost to Jordan in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
KAYSVILLE — They don't have a ton of returning starters on Davis High School's football team this year.
Nor do they have players who possess overwhelming physical size and strength.
Nor do they have a bunch of guys with eye-popping athletic ability.
What the Darts do have, however, is a program steeped with a rich winning tradition and made up of a determined group of hard-working, competitive young men, a savvy and enthusiastic coaching staff and tremendous community support. Together, those things should make for another solid season in the land of those ages-old Brown and Gold uniforms.
"I like how we're competing every day in practice," said Davis High head coach Ryan Bishop, who begins his 12th season of running the Darts' ship. "... We've asked the kids to compete hard ... and I like the way they've battled through things. I like the way they've responded. I like the way they compete against each other.
"Where we don't have a lot of returning starters but we have a group of kids that we feel like has put themselves in a position to make the most of their opportunities, my No. 1 thing is just trying to get them to understand what a high level they have to prepare for right out of the chutes.
"I can't talk enough about Region 1 and the competitive balance in Region 1," he said. "Our four nonregion games to begin the schedule are with Brighton, Viewmont, Cottonwood and Hunter. It doesn't get more physical than that. So while I feel good about how we're competing and trying to get the kids to understand and preparing them to be at a high level right out of the chutes, the bottom line is I'm as curious as anyone to see how we're going to respond and especially respond with that four-game preseason schedule and see where we're at."
Only two starters return on offense for a Davis program that has grown accustomed to winning for decades.
Senior quarterback Gage Cook steps in as the team's top signal-caller.
"He's been working hard; he's put himself in a position to start the season for us," Bishop said, "and we're really looking forward to seeing how he responds. He's had a good offseason, and we've got a little depth at quarterback, so we're really curious to see how he responds."
Cook will be backed up by junior Colton Chronister.
At tailback, seniors Colby Child and Seth Fortin and senior Kyle Godderidge will split up the carries, while seniors Ashton Reinhold and Parker Rose will share most of the playing time at fullback.
The tight end spot is manned by senior Davis Seamon, while the wide receiver corps include seniors Mike Cantrell and Taylor Avei and juniors Trevor Leavitt and Abel Porter.
Along the offensive line, seniors Sam Matina and Carlyle Findley will see playing time at center; seniors Cooper Brown and Ben Bracken and junior Sam Christensen are the team's top offensive guards, and seniors Wyatt Anderson and Jake Sessions and junior Zach Wright take over at the offensive tackle spots.
Over on the defensive line, seniors Zac Guillme, Luke Oja, Ricky Wright and Seamon will see most of the reps along with junior Kawika Tupuola.
The linebackers are junior Davis Hansen and seniors Jackson Peacock, Ammon Harris, Ben Francom and Sumner Peterson.
The defensive backfield features Godderidge, Chronister, seniors Dillon Yocom and Chance Parker, junior Matt Morrell and seniors Jonah White, Mickey Navidomskis and Nick Erickson.
"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.
Sept. 14 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — FREMONT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at Layton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — at Weber, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — NORTHRIDGE, 7 p.m.
Felts Facts for Davis High School
All-time record: 543-347-29 (96 years)
Region championships: 28 (1929, 1937, 1942, 1943, 1949, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1969 co, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979 co, 1980, 1981 co, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988 co, 1989 co, 1990 co, 1991 co, 1994 co, 2004, 2009)
Playoff appearances: 44
All-time playoff record: 59-37
State championships: 7 (1937, 1943, 1949, 1965, 1974, 1976, 2004)
State championship record: 6-10
Most played rivalry: 49 meetings with Clearfield dating back to 1961. Davis leads 26-22-1. Last met in 2010.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Davis has 543 victories, second all-time to West’s 551. But the Darts have achieved that in 96 seasons, while West has had 22 more — 118 — to reach its total. ... Davis holds the mark for making the most improvement (record-wise) and taking state. The Darts improved from 2-8 in 2003 to 11-2 in 2004 and won the 5A title. They defeated Cottonwood 50-43, in OT, in the highest-scoring final in state history.
Davis coaching history
2001-current — Ryan Bishop (71-52-1)
1984-2000 — Jim Dickson (108-77)
1979-1983 — Ward Sawley (43-12)
1969-1978 — Jay Cullimore (74-36-1)
1959-1968 — Gerald Purdy (67-33-4)
1947-1958 — Lee Liston (64-36-6)
1941-1946 — Howard "Tuff" Linford (34-17-7)
1937-1940 — "Deb" Young (21-10-2)
1934-1936 — Floyd Millet (12-6)
1931-1933 — Ray Forsburg (11-8-1)
1926-1930 — Jack Croft (18-15-2)
1923-1925 — James Anderson (2-19)
1921-22 — Floyd Anderson (5-8-1)
1920 — Wilf Romney (6-2)
1919 — Homer Warner (1-6)
1915-1917 — Lorin Briggs (6-10)
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Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
2009 — Tanner Hinds, RB
2004 — Bryan Kariya, RB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2011 — Troy Hinds, DL
2008 — Tanner Hinds, RB
2008 — James Cowser, DL
2006 — Austin Taylor, DL
2006 — Nick Martineau, DB
2006 — Chaz Walker, DB
2004 — Braden Gates, OL
2004 — Steve Boyer, OL
2004 — Josh Hoskins, DL
2004 — Kohl Perkins, LB
2003 — Keaton Hoskins, OL
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.