KAYSVILLE — To say Mitch Arquette inherited a huge challenge when he took the reins of the Davis High School football program just prior to the 2017 season would be an understatement.
But through the initial struggles, Arquette has brought the Darts back up to competitors within Region 1, a spot they've become accustomed to throughout much of the school's history.
Arquette was hired by Davis in the summer of 2017, with about a month and a half to prepare his team for a new system and a new season.
"I was hired at the end of June, so just trying to assemble a staff was a huge challenge, along with everything else," Arquette said. "There's a lot to put into any program starting out, and with just a few weeks before the start of the season in my case. So yeah, we ended up having a tough year."
Arquette's first season saw his alma mater garner just one win against eight losses, a spot Davis isn't accustomed to and a surprising result for those unaware of the challenges involved.
"It's an issue of trust. Do they trust what we do and do they trust that we have their best intentions in mind?" Arquette wondered. "That's hard to establish quickly and then the season just hit us and we weren't able to climb out of the hole."
The offseason prior to the 2018 season involved a lot of reflection and discussion in hopes of turning things around.
"We met with each player and we were very upfront with them regarding our expectations and what they needed to improve," Arquette said. "Most of all was explaining to players the importance of buying into our goals and how we do things."
Getting players buying into the system was compounded with the introduction of Farmington High School's football program, which stripped Arquette of many players he otherwise would have had within the program.
"We knew Farmington was opening up, although we didn't know the extent of how many players they'd pull from us," Arquette said. "They ended up pulling away more than half of our junior class and that changes a lot. It changes the way you practice and the way you play games."
Fortunately for Arquette, 38 players who didn't leave were a group of seniors who have really taken charge to lead the Darts to a likely postseason bid with just one region contest left.
Currently Davis sits in third place in Region 1, with a win against Syracuse assuring a spot in the 6A players, although scenarios allow Arquette's team to get in even with a loss.
Regardless of what happens down the stretch, Arquette is pleased with the strides made during his second season.
"Those seniors have really done well for us and led things out," Arquette said. "They know this is their last year and wanted to go out with their best effort. We're excited to be playing truly meaningful games late in the year and it's something we want every year here at Davis."