KAYSVILLE — By the end of the second week of the high school football season, Davis coach Scott Peery had jokingly told his wife, “Get ready to sell the house.”
Peery’s position didn’t feel so comfortable after the Darts found themselves heading into the third week still without even scoring a point. “I could definitely see, from the outside in, the doubt that was kicking in,” Peery said. “We hadn’t scored any points, but we knew we were going to right the ship.”
Eight weeks of football later, and Davis has not only righted said ship, but the Darts are close to taking a share of the Region 1 title, one that hinges on a game between Syracuse and Farmington this Wednesday.
“The boys, with the buy-in that they have,” Peery said, “there was no pointing fingers. There was no self-doubt within our own program, and we knew we’d get it going.”
The Darts won three straight games after their loss to West Jordan, then after being shellacked by Syracuse, 48-6, they won another three in a row, capped off by a dominant 47-21 win over Weber last Thursday. Davis junior quarterback Jackson Stevens, who had only seven touchdown passes and nine interceptions prior to the game, went off for 24-of-35 passing for 327 yards and five touchdowns with no picks. He also ran in a sixth touchdown, his only career rushing TD.
It was the first time all season that the Darts had come away with a truly dominant victory. In four of their six wins this season, they entered the fourth quarter either tied with or down to their opponent. Against both of Davis’ local rivals, Layton and Farmington, the team relied on a go-ahead field goal to win, most notably a 49-yarder by senior kicker Gage Butler with seconds remaining to take down the Lancers in Week 4.
In Week 8 against Farmington, the Darts were down by a touchdown entering the final quarter, then a senior running back evened the score with a 2-yard punch-in. Later on, with under two minutes to go, Butler hit a 30-yard field goal for the lead, and the defense held on for the win, handing the Phoenix their only loss of the season to date.
“Fortunately, this year, we’ve closed out a few games coming from behind, and that was just one that we were fortunate to be on the other end of,” Peery said.
The Darts’ resilience in late-game situations could never be seen in the first two weeks. Davis was pummeled thoroughly in the season opener by Lehi, 48-0, giving everyone in Utah a first look at what the Pioneers were going to be in 2022. “That’s the best team in the state, in my opinion,” Peery said.
Davis had a number of opportunities to score against West Jordan in Week 2, but it was a nightmare of a night for the offense on the Jaguars’ side of the field, leading to an unbelievable five turnovers inside the 20-yard line and a 34-0 loss despite 264 yards of total offense.
The Darts finally “kicked it in gear,” Peery said, when taking on Granger, Region 2’s best team. Davis burst ahead, scoring 21 points in the first quarter, and then held on the rest of the way for a 28-16 win.
Davis will most likely move to 7-3 this Wednesday, being heavily favored against winless Clearfield. But while the Darts take care of business down in Kaysville, another very important contest will take place at the same time just 11 miles away when Syracuse, unbeaten in Region 1, hosts Farmington.
Syracuse will play to win sole ownership of the region title, going 8-0, but if Farmington wins, then the Titans, the Phoenix and the Darts have a three-way tie.
The discomfort of rooting for Farmington is not lost on Peery at all.
“I can’t believe it,” Peery said.