Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Davis High's Tanner Hinds braces for the hit from Hunter High School's Rustin Tautioli in the season-opener for both teams Friday night.

WEST VALLEY — Sophomore Gavin Fowler was shocked when his coach told him what his role would be with the Davis High football team this year.

"I didn't expect this," he said of being named the varsity's starting quarterback after only playing on the sophomore team last year. "This is my first year playing varsity. ... A few months ago I was really nervous."

Fowler looked every bit the part of a confident team leader Friday night, as he ran a Davis offense that was so sharp it converted on fourth down twice and at least two long-yardage third downs in the Darts' 27-0 victory over Hunter.

Fowler wasn't the only one who was surprised when head coach Ryan Bishop announced Fowler would be the team's starter after a senior suffered a serious injury in the off-season.

"I was surprised, but he did way good," said senior running back Tanner Hinds. "I was way proud of how he played. Our line did great, too."

Everyone knew Fowler had talent. But could he lead a team in a game? Could he come through when it mattered most?

"We expected him to do good but not that good," said Hinds with a grin.

Fowler's performance, which included throwing for one touchdown and running for another, even surprised him a little.

"I thought we'd be punting a lot more," he said with a smile of his own. "I was pretty nervous tonight, but once we got on the field and started rolling, I felt great. It's nice to get this first game over with and get on to next week. ... I definitely did not expect four straight touchdown drives."

One person who did expect this, and maybe expects even more in the future, is the man who gave him the job.

"It's been kind of funny to me because he's just our quarterback," said coach Bishop. "Whether he's a sophomore or a 23-year-old, he's our quarterback. He did some good things tonight."

Bishop saw room for improvement but was pleased with the efficiency of his offense and the fact that his defense kept Hunter from scoring from the two-yard line in the game's final seconds.

"I was pleased to be able to get some ball movement, but we have to refine some areas," Bishop said.

Asked about his team's ability to come up big when it mattered most, he said that's something they've been working on.

"We've been working on being a better situational football team," he said. "It was nice to be able to do something like (convert on fourth down)."

Hunter, on the other hand, failed to convert on third down most of the time, something that didn't go unnoticed by first-year head coach Dustin Pearce.

"I think we competed," he said, noting the performance of Rico Montoya and Chris Harris, both of whom play receiver and defensive back, and George Wolfgramm, an offensive and defensive lineman.

"We were just no good on third down. If we win on third down, this is a much closer ballgame," Pearce said.

Hinds scored two touchdowns in the win and Jordan Welk caught an eight-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game. Mike Jewkes was 3-of-4 kicking extra points, but Hunter was able to block the last extra-point attempt of the game.

Fowler said it was a few players, including senior offensive and defensive lineman James Cowser, who made sure the transition from newcomer to starter went smoothly.

"He helped everyone rally around me," Fowler said. "It really helped me."

He said after Friday's butterflies subsided, all he had to do was the same thing he'd been doing in practice.

"I just put my trust in my teammates," he said. "This is a great feeling."


E-mail: [email protected]