Prep boys' soccer: Davis striker hero says he's focused on this year
Kaysville • He'll always be known as the kid who scored a world-class goal on the biggest stage of his career. In the second half of last year's Class 5A state title game against Brighton, Davis forward Mitch Parkinson dribbled around a defender in the box and chipped in the lone goal of the match over an onrushing keeper, a move straight out of a video game.
The goal was as memorable as the individual flash of skill and brilliance from a player who returns to help the Darts defend their 5A crown this season.
"He's kind of the face of our team," Davis coach Soulivanh Phongsavath said. "When they think of Davis High, they think of him."
Hard not to.
When you score a goal like that on a stage that large, you're immediately cemented into lore. But Parkinson said that phase of his high school career is over.
He has his ring, but the moment isn't what he thinks about when he steps on the turf as a senior.
"That was awesome, but the past is the past," he said. "We're a whole new team with new people."
The Darts face the daunting task of replacing eight senior starters from last season's championship group. But it's not as difficult as one may think. Davis has key returning players such as Parkinson, Cooper VandeMerwe, Chance Parker and Colby Winquist, among others.
Parker, a defensive back for the Davis football team in the fall, has shifted from being a forward to playing center back for the Darts and said his team will have to rely on Parkinson's clever play up front if it wants to repeat.
"You never know when he's going to put something together, and the bottom line is he does what you need him to do," Parker said.
Phongsavath has coached Parkinson on both the high school and the club soccer level for the last few seasons. He said the striker is one of the many seniors who will need to keep Davis even-keeled as the season progresses.
Parkinson looked to be accepting of the role in Monday's 2-0 victory over Juan Diego. Before the first whistle, he encouraged his teammates to have a quick start. Throughout the game, he instructed midfielders when to carry the ball upfield and when to boot a ball over the top in search of the Davis forwards.
"We've tried to let him know that the way you act and how you conduct yourself on and off the field is a reflection of us," Phongsavath said. "He's stepped up to the challenge."
The dynamic Parkinson said he isn't the sole star on this year's Darts team, adding while Davis is the defending state champion with a target on its back, he wants his team to learn what it's like to play as an underdog.
"We can do as much as we want," he said. "We weren't favorites last year and definitely aren't this year either."
Boys' soccer storylines
Class 2A • Manti's Carlo Garcia led the Templars to glory last season in a 3-2 championship win over St. Joseph. He returns for his senior year to help his team repeat. Wasatch Academy, St. Joseph and Rowland Hall will contend this year.
Class 3A • The Dixie Flyers will try to defend their 3A crown, but they will miss MVP David Ignacio. Wasatch, the champion in 2011, is back at full strength and led by miniscule-yet-dynamic midfielder Alex Espinoza. The Wasps are off to a 4-0 start and already have tallied 17 goals.
Class 4A • Last season's memorable 4A final between Murray and Olympus could be a preview for things to come in 2013. While the Titans won the title, the Spartans are a threat this year along with Mountain View, Roy and East.
Class 5A • Brighton's Matthew Coffey and Seth Fankhauser return to lead the Bengals, who will aim to knock off Davis. Lone Peak, Weber, Davis and Lehi also return strong sides.
Last season's state champions
Class 5A • Davis
Class 4A • Olympus
Class 3A • Dixie
Class 2A • Manti