NOTE: Davis finished 9-1 overall last year, and the Darts won the Region 1 championship with a 6-0 record. They lost to Pleasant Grove, 22-15, in the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
KAYSVILLE — There's a new "sheriff" in town, and he's keeping a close, watchful eye on all those fine townspeople who like to play a part in Davis High School's football program.
But this new guy's no greenhorn. Heck, no, he's a well-seasoned "deputy" who has plenty of experience serving as the right-hand man for the old "sheriff" for several years. So it should be a pretty smooth transition for the tradition-rich Darts this season — kinda like falling off a horse, as they say in these here parts.
Tyler Gladwell, who spent seven of the past eight seasons as an assistant coach at Davis High under longtime head coach Ryan Bishop, has been given the head coaching job on an interim basis in light of Bishop's recent decision to leave the school for a job with the Utah High School Activities Association.
Gladwell, a former quarterback at Weber State, spent a couple of years as a position coach overseeing the Darts' receivers and defensive backs, followed by four years as their defensive coordinator. He spent one season as head coach at Bonneville High, his alma mater, before returning to Davis last year, when he served as the team's offensive coordinator.
So it's obvious he has seen the game from just about every possible angle.
"I've had experience at a lot of different positions, which has made me a better coach — coaching offense, coaching defense — and it's been great for my career, that's for sure," Gladwell said.
He said he knew Bishop was "winding down on his coaching career, but we didn't know when it would happen."
"When it first happened, with him getting that job at the High School Activities Association, we were all kind of surprised and shocked," Gladwell said. "We didn't think it would be that fast. We thought Ryan would be here another year or two or three. But he got a great opportunity and boom, just like that, he's gone. It all happened really fast.
"It was definitely a surprise and we all hate to see him leave. We all love Coach Bishop, and the kids love him, too. He's done such a great job here running the program for the last 13 years that it was a surprise. So it was like, OK, we've got to learn how to live life without Coach Bishop and go about our daily stuff."
Past performances will tell us that their "daily stuff" generally consists of finding ways to beat their league opponents much of the time and earning state playoff berths almost all of the time.
Bishop's teams reached postseason play in 12 of his 13 seasons at the helm, including a state championship campaign in 2004 and another berth in the 5A finals in 2009. The Darts advanced to the state playoffs every year from 2006-13.
Coach Gladwell has every intention of continuing that winning trend in 2014. But, even if he does, the job will be opened up for applications at the end of this season, regardless of how successful the Darts might be this year.
Gladwell isn't going to concern himself with that, though. Instead, his focus is on guiding the defending Region 1 champions to another in a long, long line of successful football seasons.
"I would love to be the guy for the long run and for the future," he said, "but it's not something I'm focusing on right now. I'm just trying day by day to get this year going and keep the program going and have success with this year's team. And when that (eventual head coaching decision) comes, it comes, and we'll deal with it then."