KAYSVILLE Davis High is the last remaining undefeated basketball team in 5A. The Darts lead their classification in scoring (70 points per game), point differential (winning by an average of 23 points per game) and are third in defense (allowing 47 points per game).
Despite the Darts' impressive resume, there aren't many outside of Kaysville that consider them to be a favorite to win the 5A state championship.
There are several factors contributing to Davis' ability to fly under the radar this season, not the least of which is the dominance of Lone Peak casting a broad shadow over the achievements of every other team in the state.
Other reasons Davis has doubters range from last year's disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs to the fact that Davis' star players have been relatively unknown to most of the state until this year. While Davis may not start five players that are all D1 bound, they do have a tight-knit group whose strong suit is their chemistry and depth.
Region 1 is considerably down this year, as evidenced by their collective 46 percent winning percentage (Region 2 51 percent, Region 3 53 percent, Region 4 60 percent). Davis has notable wins over West Jordan, Bingham, Alta, and on the road at Viewmont, but the Darts haven't faced some of the premier teams in 5A. Yet.
As for those who discredit Davis' chances of winning a title with internet posts, or locker-room chatter, the Darts couldn't care less.
"We don't get too caught up in rankings. We just care about ourselves and try to concentrate on what we're doing," said center Mitch Florence. "Since we've been ranked all year, we know everyone wants to come in and beat us. Ever since we lost to Jordan (in the playoffs last year), we do not overlook anyone."
Davis coach Jay Welk echoed the sentiments of Florence, saying, "A lot of people feel we're not the caliber of some teams, but we don't really care. We're only in control of us. The media doesn't matter, and what the fans say doesn't either."
Hearing the nonchalant attitude of Davis' players isn't a surprise, considering starters Florence, Jackson Stevenett, Conner Van Brocklin, Nick Groninger and Chase Flint are all seniors who are sojourning toward a third-straight Region 1 championship. Their experience together was only solidified over the past summer when they all stuck together and played in national tournaments typically reserved for all-star teams.
Florence points to Davis' trust and experience as one of the strengths of a team built on selflessness. Any of the five starters is capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night. Stevenett, a 6-foot-4 springboard of forward, leads the team with an 18.5 scoring average, while the slick-shooting Van Brocklin has shown a more well-rounded game this year while averaging 11.5 points per game. The other three starters are all close to double figures in scoring.
"We've been playing together forever, so we're real confident with each other. There's not a standout star that teams can focus on. We've got a lot of guys that do a lot of things," said Florence.
With six games remaining, Davis has a two-game lead in Region 1. After that, there is only one way to quiet the critics: win in the state tournament. That is something Welk feels the Darts are built to achieve.
"This is a fun group to be around. They are professional and respect everyone they play. They are not a high-stress group," he said.
Playing cool under the pressure and bright lights of the state tournament is the one way Davis can earn the respect the Darts feel they deserve