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Davis Knight's impact on American Fork football for the last 42 years is obvious. Drive through town and you can actually see it.

A banner stretched across Main Street and signs on the street corners all over American Fork announced the coach's retirement, as well as invited friends and former players to the school for a send-off.

There wasn't much talk about last year's disappointing season. Instead, people gathered last week to honor the man who has been the face of American Fork football for decades. Knight never won a state title, and the Cavemen had some down years. But it was clear through the stories told by former players that the coach has had an immeasurable impact on his players' lives.

"The man is a legend throughout the state. He is a great influence on the community and a great person," said last season's captain, Caden Zarbock. "He is such a good man that it's hard to see him go."

One of Knight's most accomplished former players, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, recalled his first meeting with Knight, which took place on a Little League baseball diamond. Mendenhall told many stories about his old coach, and how Knight taught the players that they weren't just a team -- but a band of brothers. Mendenhall said Knight was instrumental in turning him into the player he was and the coach he is today.

"He has been and will remain a formative force in my life," Mendenhall said. "The ideas I have regarding coaching came from Coach Knight. I will continue to teach his message and shape young men like he has."

Knight's philosophy of the team being greater than any individual has produced a loyal following from players and students. Autumn Friday nights mean football in American Fork, and Knight's teams packed them in, even during the most lackluster seasons. More than 60 former players attended the event.

Knight began teaching at his alma mater in 1965 and started as an assistant coach under Don Mower in 1967. When Mower retired in 1981, Knight took over the reins and hasn't looked back.

"I never imagined that 42 years later I would have had these experiences," Knight said. "I couldn't have dreamed about the ride I've had. There are no regrets for me but a profound amount of gratitude."

No doubt the stands of American Fork will be packed again next fall but someone else will be calling the shots. Knight's legacy will continue, though, and his presence will be felt within the stadium.

The team will keep going strong and trying to live up to what Knight has taught them for the last 42 years.

"Seeing these boys turn into men -- that's the payday for me," Knight said. "I'll be forever grateful for the kind of men I've associated with."

Davis Knight's coaching career

Davis Knight started coaching football at his alma mater, American Fork High, in 1967 as an assistant under Don Mower.

When Mower retired in 1981, Knight took over.