In any level of athletic competition, change is inevitable. Players graduate; coaches come and go. If anyone understands this is part of football, it’s new Davis coach Mitch Arquette.
The first-year coach takes over the Davis program having experienced the challenges of playing in new systems. As a collegiate player at the University of Utah from 2002 to 2005, Arquette had three head coaches: Ron McBride, Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham. During his junior year in 2004, Utah went undefeated and became the first so-called “Mid-Major” program to play in a BCS bowl.
His teams at the U of U adjusted well to change. In the early going, he’s pleased with his players’ attitudes.
“The kids have embraced change,” he said. “They’re buying in. We’re excited to get going.”
Arquette said one of the best ways to help the players get used to a new system and set of philosophies of a new coaching staff is to work well with one another.
“We’re trying to get the kids to trust each other and know that if everyone does their job, everything will work out,” he said.
It will help Arquette to have a player to rely on the caliber of Jace Hinton. The senior wide receiver and return specialist has the skill and talent to make Arquette’s offense go. Last season, he had 30 catches for 495 yards and seven touchdowns. Arquette said his workload should increase even more this season.
The Darts have a lot of new faces on offense this season, but Arquette is pleased with what he saw in summer practices leading up to the start of the season.
“Our offense has come a long way,” he said.
Zack Mansfield, Braxton Buchanan and Trey Baggett are three newcomers to the varsity squad that could help supplement Hinton’s abilities. Parker Sapp and Garrett Larson are candidates to replace the graduated Hayden Grange at quarterback. Filling in for graduated senior Riley Smith will be no easy task for the Darts. Smith had more than 1,500 yards last season; no other Davis player had more 150.
Arquette has confidence in his defense, especially with coordinator Cameron Pribble overseeing development and performance.
“Our defense is stout,” Arquette said. “Our defensive coordinator is doing a great job.”
Linebacker Zack Hoskins is the leader of that side of the ball. The tackling machine had more than 100 stops as a junior, including a pair of quarterback sacks. Arquette said fellow linebacker Max Tupuola has big things in store this season.
The offensive line is young and inexperienced, so Arquette is working hard to improve that position. Center Matt Gardner is the lone returning starter at that position. Arquette is waiting for players at other spots to emerge as leaders and contributors.
“We’ve got to grow there,” he said. “We’ve got to find guys who are going to step up,” Arquette said. “I’m excited to see where we stack up.”
Davis struggled in the season opener, falling 27-2 to Bountiful. The team will look to bounce back on Friday when it hosts Viewmont.