White “Darold” Simmons didn’t win any state championships as Granite High’s football coach during 14 seasons in the 1960s and 1970s, or as Taylorsville High’s athletic director after that. But the men he got started in the coaching profession sure did.
Simmons, who replaced the late BYU football coach LaVell Edwards at Granite, died on Sunday of causes incident to age. He was 86.
“Dad was the kind of guy who cared as much about the team manager or the boys who carried the water as he did the star quarterback,” said his son, John Simmons. “He was a fine mentor and coach to a lot of people, but his greatest legacy was that he cared deeply about people. A lot of young lives were better because of him.”
Simmons, who was honored for his work as a high school athletic director by the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, guided the Farmers to the 4A state semifinals in 1975. He became Taylorsville’s first AD when it opened in 1981.
He was also an accomplished wrestling coach at Granite, which closed in 2009.
At Granite, Simmons hired Roger DuPaix, who would go on to become one of the most successful prep football coaches in state history at Highland and Skyline. Another outstanding coach, Wayne Startin, also coached at Granite under Simmons.
At Taylorsville, Simmons hired Ron Rushton and Steve Cramblitt, coaches who turned the Warriors’ baseball program into a state dynasty in the 1980s and 1990s.
“As good of a coach as he was, he may have been an even better athletic director,” John Simmons said. “He had a sharp eye for coaching talent.”
Darold Simmons and his twin brother, Gerald, played football at the University of Utah under Jack “Cactus Jack" Curtice and were part of two Skyline Conference championship teams in the early 1950s. Their roommates for four years were center Charles “Tiny” Grant and quarterback Don Rydalch.
“He was proud of the fact that two of the best high school football coaches in state history, West’s Gene Plaga and East’s Grant Martin, who were his teammates at the U., sent their sons to Granite to play football for him,” John Simmons said.
Nearly a half-dozen players that Simmons coached at Granite went on to the NFL after successful college careers. He worked with the likes of Golden Richards, Paul Linford, Gordon Jolley, Lance Reynolds and Rick Parros.
“Coaching has been great to me,” Simmons told The Salt Lake Tribune in 1975. “I’ve never worked with a coach or boy who I haven’t learned something from.”
Funeral services will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Winder LDS Chapel, 4350 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City.