KAYSVILLE – The Davis High School football players got the surprise of their lives over the summer in preparation for the upcoming season.
Its coach for the last 13 years, Ryan Bishop, left the team in order to take the assistant director job at the Utah High School Activities Association.
The departure, said interim coach Tyler Gladwell, was a bit of a shock to the players but hasn’t changed what the team will want to accomplish as it moves forward to its opening football game.
“There’s isn’t a good reason to change a whole lot about our team,” he said. “Ryan did such a great job in treating his players with respect and giving back to his kids, and we’re not going to change a whole lot just because he’s gone.”
The stress this season will be to continue to get the players to play as a team despite going through the rough patch of losing its coach in the middle of summer.
There’s also a bit of pressure from finishing the regular season undefeated, which Gladwell said “kind of put an ‘x’ on our backs.”
“We’re aware of that, but at the same time there were some games there that we could have lost and were very close,” he said. “You look at the Syracuse game and we could have easily lost that game if not for a few things going our way. There were more games like that, but that one really sticks out in my mind from last season.”
The team will continue to have a good number of returning starters and key players that will come back this season.
The quarterback responsibilities will turn from Colton Chronister, who graduated, to Parker Christiansen.
Masen White will continue to take carries at running back and is coming off a season where he led the team in rushing yards with 698. He also scored four touchdowns.
Christian Smith is expected to be the team’s tight end and one of the receiving spots will go to Connor Simonsen.
On defense, Tyler Hinds, the youngest of the three Hinds brothers to play at Davis, will be the starting safety. Conner Taylor, a junior, will get the nod at middle linebacker and will be counted on to make the calls on defense.
“He’s been really great for us in the offseason,” Gladwell said. “He’s does everything you expect him to do every day.”
Once again the Darts will have a nine-game schedule that Gladwell said is done intentionally to keep players fresh and to give possible injured players one more week to recover.
“We’ve done that to get the kids rested and ready to come back and play the next week,” he said. “It’s worked well for us in the past and last year it actually worked out perfect because we were able to get some kids back for the next game. We had a really tough game against Northridge that we won because of the extra week of rest.”
While the overall expectations of the team remain high, setting goals for this year’s squad still isn’t something the team focuses on before the season starts.
“The kids want to be successful in the classroom and on the field; I think they correlate with each other,” Gladwell said. “What we’re doing right now is getting better every day in order to get us ready for the first game of the season. If we do that, the rest will take care of itself.”
Davis finished the 2013 season with a 9-1 overall record and was 6-0 in region play. It lost to Pleasant Grove 22-15 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
Darts 2014 schedule
8-29 @ Hunter
9-5 @ Taylorsville
9-26 @ Viewmont
10-15 @ Layton
10-24 @ Weber