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High school football: Davis Darts 2016 preview

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Note: Davis finished with a 9-1 overall record last year, and first in Region 2 with a 6-0 record. It lost to Fremont 21-20 in the 5A first round.

Davis 2015 offensive and defensive stats

KAYSVILLE — At Davis High School, the slogan they strive to live by is "Defend the Tradition."

And wow, what a tradition it is.

The Darts, who in 2013 became the winningest prep football program in Utah history, have now won 575 games all-time — more than any school in the Beehive State.

They are rightfully proud of the tremendous legacy they've built over the last century, and they have no intentions of doing anything differently as they prepare for the 2016 campaign.

"It's fun to be a part of the tradition," said head coach Tyler Gladwell, who's beginning his third year at the Davis High helm but was a longtime assistant coach at the school before taking over the reins. "As a coach, it's fun to be a part of it. I know the players enjoy it, and it's something that we talk about.

"And with that tradition comes some high expectations, so going out to a practice and knowing that tradition, hopefully it helps us practice a little better and the kids work a little harder in the weight room. And in crunch time in a game, hopefully we can pull through and it's because of that higher expectation here at Davis High and the tradition that comes along with not just the football program but the rest of the school, too. There are great expectations that come with football here and the tradition that goes with it."

Coach Gladwell brings back former players each summer to talk to his team about the Darts' proud winning tradition, something that helps set the tone for the upcoming season. It's an opportunity for those standouts of the past to share their feelings of what it's like to "Defend the Tradition."

"The expectation level and the pressure here is a good thing, I think," Gladwell said. "Just having that pressure and that high expectation that comes with the tradition at Davis High, it's a good thing for us. And I think it's a good thing for the kids, too, because it pushes all of us to be better."

Last year's team ran the table through the preseason and in Region 2, notching nine straight wins before dropping a devastating 21-20 decision at home to Fremont in the opening round of the 5A state playoffs — a disheartening way to end what had been such a terrific season.

"I think we're over it by now," Gladwell said wistfully. "Once you get in the playoffs, there's only one team that's going to end their season with a win. So whenever you lose in the playoffs, it's always hard. And it's disappointing when your season comes to an end and your seniors are now done with their football careers, most of them, and everybody's moving on with life.

"So I think whenever you get in the playoffs and lose, no matter when it might be, it is disappointing, it's hard."

Despite the fact that the Darts lost many of the top players off last year's team through graduation and only have a handful of returning starters, they were still picked by the league's other coaches to repeat as region champions again this year.

Gladwell figures that's based on what last year's team was able to accomplish, and he's not paying too much attention to preseason polls — even though he and his squad have every intention of contending for the crown again this year.

"Right now, I don't care if we're picked to win the region or to be in the top five in state to start the season," he said. "At the end of the season, I want to be the team who's won the region and is ranked in the top five in the state.

"Those are not projections based off of what you have this year; I think it's something they go off of last year, and I don't really want to get caught up in all that. And I don't want our kids to get caught up in it as well.

"This year, we have the same expectations and the same feelings we do every year," said Gladwell. "We get great kids here at Davis High; they work hard, they're team players, they want to do whatever they can to help the team be successful, and they're coachable kids. And this year's no different than any other year. We want to be competitive in the region, we want to get in the playoffs and make a run, and I think from last year to this year, we have the same feeling going into the season."

With only three returning starters on offense and five on defense, some relatively inexperienced players are going to have to step into the void and show they've got the stuff it takes to continue the program's perennial winning ways in 2016.

"Having three returners on offense and five returners on defense, we've got a lot of holes that we've got to fill from last year," the Darts' coach said. "Every year's so different, and it's a different team, a new group of seniors, so right now we're just trying to figure out what our strengths are going to be.

"And I think it's going to take a few games for us to kinda get that going, and by the time region hits hopefully we've got it all figured out and we're rolling.

"I think this team is very similar to the teams we've had here in the past," Gladwell said. "We've got good kids who work hard, are very coachable and want to be successful. Year in and year out, we get those type of kids here at Davis High, and this year's no different."

Senior quarterback Hayden Grange takes over the reins of the Darts' offense this year.

"He's a savvy player for us, very smart, knows where to go with the football, and is a good leader in the huddle for us," Gladwell said. "He's a dual-threat type of kid who can throw it, and he's a runner who's elusive. We're excited to have him play at that quarterback position this year for us."

Grange will be backed up by senior Jake Emery, who'll start at a receiver position, either in the slot or at wideout, if he's not needed to call signals.

"Both of ’em are good athletes and good leaders," Gladwell said of his two senior QBs.

At running back, senior Riley Smith returns after churning for 876 yards and nine touchdowns last season, averaging well over 6 yards per carry.

"He's an all-region kid and he's such a good runner," Gladwell said. "He's a kid we're gonna expect quite a bit from this year and to be one of our leaders on offense for sure. He's a good player, great runner, a very strong, quick kid. He's the type of kid that runs hard, but he can also break the 80-yard touchdown run for us. We're excited to have him back."

Smith will be joined in the backfield by senior Riley Stringham, who will start at safety and help shore up the running back position.

"He's fast, really fast, one of our fastest kids on the team," Gladwell said of Stringham. "He's athletic, quick, and he'll be a good complement to Riley Smith."

At wide receiver, junior Jace Hinton and Emery are slated to start at two of the receiver spots, with seniors Jonny Thornton and Jaxon Potter giving the Darts two more solid pass-catching threats.

"They are all very similar — fast — there's a lot of really good speed with that group," Gladwell said of his receiving corps. "They're all very athletic, all fast kids, kids that can be game-breakers for us. They're kids that can take a 5-yard pass pattern and turn it into a 60-yard touchdown run. That's a good group for us, very athletic with a lot of speed, and we're excited to get those guys the ball."

Trey Grossenbach, a junior, will start at tight end and be backed up by junior Jarem Harris, and they're both good, strong blockers who are physical in the run game and can also catch the ball very well.

"They're both good possession-type receivers, just good overall tight ends who can block and catch the ball, too," Gladwell said.

The Darts have decent size on the interior O-line, where another junior, Matt Gardner (6-1, 250) will start at center, backed up by senior Matt Flake.

Cline Chatterton (6-2, 270) is a senior returning starter at one offensive guard spot, and he's a strong leader.

"With Cline being the returner, we're expecting quite a bit from him," Gladwell said. "He's a great leader and overall just one of our best linemen, a strong kid with great technique who knows the offense and is a good leader up front for us with our offensive linemen."

Chatterton will be joined by three other seniors — Cesar Calvillo (6-0, 250), Spencer Plummer (6-0, 225) and Kaleb Hyte (5-10, 230) — in sharing the reps at the guard spots, while senior Spencer Last (6-1, 230) is the other returning starter at offensive tackle, where he'll be joined by senior Avery Brown (6-5, 240).

"Last will be one of our best linemen, too," Gladwell said. "We expect a lot from him; he's a great leader. All these kids work their tails off, and they're very dedicated."

Over on defense, Calvillo is a returning starter on the D-line at tackle, where he recorded 38 tackles and a sack last season.

"He's a lot like Spencer and Cline on offense," Gladwell said of Calvillo. "He's a great leader for us, being a returning starter, and he has a great work ethic and is very smart."

Calvillo will be joined at tackle by senior Hayden Prows (6-2, 220), with Gardner and Last providing depth there.

At defensive end, seniors Eli Beard (6-1, 210) and Plummer will start, with junior Jordan Strate providing D-end depth.

At linebacker, seniors Hayden Garlock and Jake Hadley, a pair of outstanding returning starters, will handle the two outside positions. Garlock had 44 tackles and a sack last season, while Hadley piled up 100 tackles — second-most on the team — with a sack and an interception in 2015. Junior Zack Hoskins will start in the middle and senior Parker Greenman will provide depth.

"Garlock is fast, physical, smart, and Hadley's the same type of kid," Gladwell said. "They're both very fast, athletic and physical. They have speed and they're smart."

Hayden Lawson, a senior cornerback, started several games last year and finished with 17 tackles and an interception.

"He did a phenomenal job," Gladwell said of Lawson. "He's our guy. He's a guy that we're gonna count on at that corner spot. He's very good."

Lawson is joined in the defensive backfield by seniors Bridger Tippetts, Jake Bracken and Emery at the cornerback positions. Stringham, another senior returning starter who had 42 tackles and an interception last season, is back at one of the safety spots along with senior Braden Sims. Another senior, Braxton Frasure, provides depth there.

The versatile Grange will handle the Darts' punting, kickoffs and place-kicking duties after earning All-Region 2 honors as a kicker last season, when he connected on six field goals and 39 PATs.

"Having a good kicker is very valuable in high school," Gladwell said. "Having a kicker that can get it in the zone in high school football, that's a huge weapon — making a team start on the 20 and go 80 yards — and field position stuff. Hayden can do that, and he's a great punter, too."

Like any coach, Gladwell wants to win every game, but he also looks at the preseason schedule — with games against Clearfield, Weber and Olympus — as a way to see what his personnel can do.

"I think the preseason allows you to maybe experiment with a few things and try some kids at different positions," he said. "And you use those games to get your X's and O's figured out on offense, defense and special teams.

"We'll have a lot of guys who will be under those lights on the field for the first time, and it's gonna take a minute to get that all figured out for them.

"I feel like we've got a lot of team speed at the skill positions. Those kids are fast," Gladwell said. "We're not the biggest team, and we don't have the biggest linemen. Most of the teams that we play will be bigger than us, especially up front.

"But I think with our philosophy of trying to not play as many kids both ways and trying to stay fresh, where in the fourth quarter hopefully we're the team that still has energy and is fresh from not having to play both ways. That's how we can compete with those teams that have those bigger kids than us."

Although the Darts are favored to take home another Region 2 title, Gladwell looks at the region race as a gauntlet in which every team will pose a difficult challenge.

"I think the region will be much better this year," he said. "There's a lot of teams that return a lot of their starters from last year, and I think there's gonna be a lot of good talent, so I think it'll be a much tougher region this year.

"I think Viewmont's going to be really talented. I think they've got a lot of skilled players on their team, both their senior and junior classes, so I think they're going to be very good. Syracuse has got a lot of returners; Layton has got a lot of returners, and so has Hunter. I think all those teams will be much improved from their teams from last year. And they were all very good and very competitive last year, and I think they'll be even better this year. And West and Granger are also difficult teams to play, too.

"It'll be tough," Gladwell said. "The teams are going to be better than they were last year. We'll be competitive still, we want to be a playoff team, and we want to win the region — our goals haven't changed — so those are all the things that we'll be striving for. But it'll be tougher. It'll be a much tougher road, that's for sure."

Davis Darts at a glance

Coach: Tyler Gladwell is entering his third season as Davis High’s head coach and fourth year overall as a high school head coach. He has a 16-4 record at Davis and a career coaching record of 19-11. He’s a graduate of Bonneville High and Weber State University.

Offense (3 returning starters; spread formation)

Offensive coordinator: Tyler Gladwell

Returning offensive starters

Riley Smith (RB)

Cline Chatterton (OL)

Spencer Last (OL)

Offensive newcomers to watch

Hayden Grange (QB)

Riley Stringham (RB)

Jace Hinton (WR)

Jake Emery (Slot)

Jonny Thornton (WR)

Jaxon Potter (Slot)

Trey Grossenbach (TE)

Matt Gardner (OL)

Spencer Plummer (OL)

Avery Brown (OL)

Defense (5 returning starters, 4-3 defense)

Defensive coordinator: Cameron Pribble

Returning defensive starters

Cesar Calvillo (DL)

Hayden Garlock (LB)

Jake Hadley (LB)

Hayden Lawson (CB)

Riley Stringham (S)

Defensive newcomers to watch

Hayden Prows (DL)

Eli Beard (DL)

Spencer Plummer (DL)

Zack Hoskins (LB)

Bridger Tippetts (CB)

Braden Sims (S)

Coaches' preseason Region 2 straw poll: First

Deseret News Region 2 prediction: First

Bottom line: Davis ran the table in Region 2 last year, but it will be much more difficult for any team to do that this season with Viewmont and Layton on the rise, Hunter and Syracuse strong again and West and Granger improving. Though they're picked to repeat as region champs, the Darts have a lot of new faces in key places throughout their starting lineup, so the key will be for those young men who are varsity starters for the first time to use the preseason to get their bearings about them for a strong regular-season and postseason run. Davis will definitely contend for another league crown and will aim to make a deeper postseason push after suffering a shocking first-round upset in last year's playoffs — a disappointing defeat that could serve as added motivation for this year's team.

2016 schedule

Aug. 19 — at Clearfield, 7 p.m.

Aug. 26 — at Weber, 7 p.m.

Sept. 2 — OLYMPUS, 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 — WEST, 7 p.m.

Sept. 23 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 — GRANGER, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 — HIGHLAND, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 — at Hunter, 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 — at Layton, 7 p.m.

Felt's Facts for Davis High School

All-time record: 575-357-29 (100 years)

Region championships: 30 (1929, 1937, 1942, 1943, 1949, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1969 co, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979 co, 1980, 1981 co, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988 co, 1989 co, 1990 co, 1991 co, 1994 co, 2004, 2009, 2013, 2015)

Playoff appearances: 48

Current playoff appearance streak: 10 (2006-2015)

All-time playoff record: 60-401

State championships: 7 (1937, 1943, 1949, 1965, 1974, 1976, 2004)

State championship record: 6-10

Most played rivalry: 49 meetings with Clearfield dating back to 1961. Davis leads 26-22-1. Last met in 2010.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Davis has 575 victories, the most in state history, as the Darts celebrated 100 years of football in 2015. Only seven other schools have played more seasons. … Davis holds the mark for making the most improvement (record-wise) and taking state. The Darts improved from 2-8 in 2003 to 11-2 in 2004 and won the 5A title. They defeated Cottonwood 50-43, in OT, in the highest-scoring final in state history. … Dart Ryan Smoot returned a punt for 90 yards in 2004 to set a championship-game record

Last 5

2015 — 9-1 (6-0 in Region 2 — 5A first round)

2014 — 7-3 (5-1 in Region 1 — 5A first round)

2013 — 9-1 (6-0 in Region 1 — 5A first round)

2012 — 7-5 (2-3 in Region 1 — 5A quarterfinals)

2011 — 5-4 (3-2 in Region 1 — 5A first round)


Davis coaching history

2014-current — Tyler Gladwell (16-4)

2001-2013 — Ryan Bishop (80-53-1)

1984-2000 — Jim Dickson (108-77)

1979-83 — Ward Sawley (43-12)

1969-78 — Jay Cullimore (74-36-1)

1959-68 — Gerald Purdy (67-33-4)

1947-58 — Lee Liston (64-36-6)

1941-46 — Howard "Tuff" Linford (34-17-7)

1937-40 — "Deb" Young (21-10-2)

1934-36 — Floyd Millet (12-6)

1931-33 — Ray Forsburg (11-8-1)

1926-30 — Jack Croft (18-15-2)

1923-25 — James Anderson (2-19)

1921-22 — Floyd Anderson (5-8-1)

1920 — Wilf Romney (6-2)

1919 — Homer Warner (1-6)

1915-1917 — Lorin Briggs (6-10)

Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

2009 — Tanner Hinds, RB

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2015 — Connor Taylor, LB

2014 — Ty Hinds, DB

2012 — Chance Parker, DB

2012 — Jackson Peacock, LB

2011 — Troy Hinds, DL

2008 — Tanner Hinds, RB

2008 — James Cowser, DL

2006 — Austin Taylor, DL

2006 — Nick Martineau, DB

2006 — Chaz Walker, DB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com