There's no denying Davis High tennis coach Jerry Hogge knows how to go out with a bang.
After getting blindsided by region rival Weber High in 2006, Hogge made sure that his last year at Davis would be one to remember, taking first at the Region 1 tourney and simultaneously re-establishing the Darts as the top team north of Brighton with a fourth-place finish at the 5A state tourney in May.
"Davis had a great season this year," said Weber head coach Carolyn MacFarlane. "They're a great group of young men. They work hard all year long, and this spring it really paid off for them."
Among the Darts' top performers in 2007 was Ryan Garner, whose consistent play and team-first attitude made him a solid option at first singles.
Garner, a senior, overcame a tough draw to advance to the second round of the state tournament.
"I think that he was sort of their leader on the court," said MacFarlane.
"He was just a really good all-around player. Jake Davis is one of the best players in the state, and it took him three sets to beat Ryan."
Perhaps even more impressive was the performance of up-and-comer Matthias Neville at third singles. In just his first year as a member of the varsity team, Neville was the Darts' top individual scorer at the state tournament, advancing all the way to the semifinal round before losing to eventual state
champion Matt Larsen of Brighton.
Not to be outdone by a newcomer, the Darts' doubles teams each put together a similarly noteworthy streak of victories at the 5A tourney. Davis' top duo of Matt Mantell and Dallin Wilkes survived a pair of close matches on the first day to advance to the semis, as did the Darts' No. 2 tandem of Drew Frandsen and Jeremy Downs.
Although many of the team's key players will be back next season, a change in the Darts' coaching regime could spell trouble for one of the state's top tennis programs. With Hogge moving on to bigger and better things at the newly christened Syracuse High, some tennis aficionados in Davis County can't help but wonder how long the Darts will be able to stay on top of solid programs like Viewmont and Weber.
The general feeling up north, however, is that the Darts have both the talent and tradition necessary to survive just about anything, including a sudden coaching change.
"Davis has more year-round players than the majority of schools in Region 1," says MacFarlane. "Whoever their new coach is, he or she will be inheriting a team that is ready to compete."