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Prep football preview: Davis Darts
First Published Aug 04 2014 09:15 am • Last Updated Aug 19 2014 09:16 am

EDITOR’S NOTE » This is one in a series of previews of Utah’s high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.

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Davis Darts

Consistency was thrown for a loop in mid-July.

The face of one of the more successful high school football programs in Utah moved on after 13 years at the helm and 88 career coaching wins at Davis High School when Ryan Bishop stepped down to take a job as an associate director with the Utah High School Activities Association.

It didn’t take long for Tyler Gladwell to shake hands and accept the reins to succeed his coach and friend leading the Darts’ football program. The former Davis assistant — who was the head coach at Bonneville for a season in 2012 — is now aiming to re-implement that consistency in the weeks before the season starts.

"It’s something I’m excited for," Gladwell said. "Something I would hope happens again in terms of becoming a head coach, but didn’t know where or when or how."

But the first-year Davis head coach understands the expectations that come with coaching at Davis High School. The Darts are coming off a 9-1 2013 campaign that ended much sooner than expected after a 9-0 start. Davis was upset at home by Pleasant Grove in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

This year’s group has some major holes to fill. A very talented defense loses Davis Hanson, Kawika Tupuola, Jaxon Foreman, Aaron Becker and Matt Morrell, among others. Toss in the likes of Abel Porter, Trevor Leavitt, Parker Rose and Colton Chronister moving on from the offense, Gladwell knows the Darts have their work cut out for them.

"We’re going to take the time we have during camp and the preseason to bring along those who don’t have a lot of varsity experience and get them ready for the speed of the game, playing and the lights and the pressures that come with Friday night games," Gladwell said. "That’s something we’re going to have to build up to."

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Offensively, running back Mason White returns for his senior year. He rushed for nearly 700 yards a season ago. Speedster Conner Simonsen is back and will provide versatility in the backfield and split out wide. Having a foundation of those two will help incoming odds-on starter Parker Christiansen, a 6-foot-4 quarterback who Gladwell describes as a very physically gifted and cerebral player.

Having never been the No. 1 option, the pressure to learn the intricacies of the offense and leading a team must come quickly.

"You can’t really simulate a Friday night on a Tuesday afternoon," Gladwell said.

Two key returners from last year’s defense will be defensive backs Tyler Hines and KJ Bishop, Gladwell added.

Last year » 9-1 overall (6-0 in Region 1; lost in first round of playoffs)

Key returner » Mason White (RB). The senior running back who rushed for nearly 700 yards in 2013 should shoulder the load as first-year QB Parker Christiansen gets his feet under him as the Davis signal-caller.

Player to watch » Tyler Hinds (S). Partnering with fellow ballhawk KJ Bishop, Hinds’ ability in the defensive backfield will make quarterbacks think twice about testing the Davis secondary.

Biggest hole » Offensive line/Defensive line. Coach Tyler Gladwell said the four positions on the defensive line and five positions on the offensive line remain up for grabs going into fall camp.

Need to know » For the first time in 13 seasons, Davis will have a new head coach manning the sidelines as former coach Ryan Bishop accepted a job with the UHSAA and assistant Gladwell succeeded him.

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