KAYSVILLE — There were no expectations. None. Zero. Zilch.
Such freedom can be a team’s catharsis to release, let loose and have fun. If one took in a Davis High baseball game at all this year, the Darts’ dugout looked like a party every game.
Also, the scoreboard operator was busy. The Darts could hit at almost every spot throughout the batting order.
A lot of that was due to new head coach Josh Godfrey and his way of coaching: keeping it fun.
“One of my biggest accomplishments was if you didn’t start, they were having fun, they were engaged and when their number was called they were successful,” Godfrey said.
As it turns out, having fun was the outlet through which a very young team exploded onto the scene this year, winning the Region 1 championship in somewhat runaway fashion and exorcising playoff demons from last year’s storied team that followed this year’s group like a smell that wouldn’t dissipate.
For setting that into motion, Godfrey is the Standard-Examiner All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year. Godfrey said this team was the most fun he’d ever been a part of, in any sport.
“I had a blast because there were probably not a lot of expectations personally and team-wise and community-wise,” Godfrey said. “Once you saw the kids started to believe, it was infectious.”
Godfrey was Clearfield’s head coach, then went to Davis, his alma mater, last summer. He inherited a program that saw its longtime head coach retire and virtually its entire lineup graduate.
He juggled a lot in non-region games, but quickly decided on a regular lineup after a few games. That lineup was not only new, but very young.
The Darts got big contributions from just three seniors, none of whom played much last season.
Everywhere else, Davis filled the lineup with talented sophomores and juniors, who also didn’t play a bunch last year.
The Darts employed a two-catcher system with Adam Hackmeister and Garrett Larsen, both sophomores. They started a sophomore, Bryson Hales, in the outfield and he hit .394.
The coaching staff thought they’d go into the season tempering expectations and seeing young players make mistakes. They ended up being better than Godfrey thought.
“They’re talented ... and they didn’t make a lot of mistakes, so it was pretty easy to coach. I knew this sophomore class was good but I didn’t know how good,” Godfrey said.
Davis hit .345 as a team, won every series in region play and advanced to the 6A state quarterfinals.
The goal at the start of the year was just to make the playoffs.
“They were realists with no experience and only one returning player, ‘Let’s go make the playoffs,’” Godfrey said.
After the Darts beat Clearfield in a series and put distance between them and the Falcons — their main challenger for most of the season — the team changed the goal to winning the region championship.
After the Darts won the region championship, their next goal was to not go 0-2 in the playoffs like last year’s team that did so after a 24-0 regular season.
Two slugfest wins later, Davis went to the second week of the state tournament where its season ended. Godfrey isn’t worried too much about that. Most of his team is coming back next year.