KAYSVILLE — History favors the Davis Darts. Yes, they have a very storied and illustrious history when it comes to football.
This is a program that has been playing since 1915 and has more region championships (32) than losing seasons (30).
That’s why last year’s 1-8 record seemed so strange. That just doesn’t happen often at Davis, but there are a couple reasons why the Darts are poised for a turnaround this year.
The first is experience. There were a lot of young players on the team last year and many of them return.
“A lot of people know that we had a lot of juniors on the field last year and that experience is very important to a varsity football game, so I think it’s a pretty big factor,” junior quarterback Garrett Larson said.
The second (perhaps indirect) reason: of the 15 previous head coaches in Davis football history, only three have failed to improve on their first-year record.
That’s what second-year head coach Mitch Arquette is trying to do: improve on a season he called a perfect storm.
Coaches were named on short notice (Arquette was announced as the head coach in late May) and there was hardly any time to install new schemes. Arquette said it showed, but didn’t use that as an excuse.
“I think there are a few games we should’ve won based on mistakes I made. It was not fun,” he said.
The main bright spots for the team last year were a 41-0 thrashing of Layton and defensive end Jordan Strate accumulating 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and eventually earning a scholarship to Weber State.
But it’s in the past now, which is what the coaches are preaching. The only way it lingers is as an extra motivational tool for the players.
“It drives us even more. We hate it, we’re Davis and we’re not used to that kind of record here, and it just puts a huge chip on our shoulder and we’re ready to go play,” linebacker Max Tupuola said.
It also changed the coaching staff’s outlook and approach.
Obviously things weren’t going right, so they’re trying to fix them, even if the deck was somewhat stacked against the coaches trying to install new schemes.
“First and foremost, communication, making certain that myself and the two coordinators are right on the same level,” Arquette said. “It was hard winning over that senior class (last year being) the new guy coming in and changing things and not knowing them very well. And I feel like this year we’ve been able to get to know this group of seniors especially well.”
Last year’s learning curve was a bit steeper due to the team’s youth, but Davis is hoping the experience pays dividends this year.
The Darts could be a dark-horse contender in Region 1 this year based on a solid defense and the power shifts around the region, shifts that have really helped Davis’ playoff chances.
About half of the coaching staff is new, including defensive coordinator Bo Roundy (the head wrestling coach at DHS), Carl Harry (wide receivers), Shaun Smith (running backs) and Dell Stilson (linebackers).
Davis also has new uniforms, but fear not: the brown and gold colors remain.
Key stretch: The Layton game on Aug. 31. Not only is it the Darts’ bitter rival, but the Lancers are coached by former Davis coach Tyler Gladwell, adding to the emotion of the game.
History on Arquette’s side: Davis’ all-time record in a coach’s first season is 67-51-7, while the Darts have an 82-51-3 record in a coach’s second season.