Leavitt quarterback Wyatt Hathaway is flanked by his father and head coach Mike, right, and grandfather Larry, left, who is a Leavitt assistant coach, earlier this week during a break in practice for Friday’s state championship game against MCI in Orono. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

TURNER — Mike Hathaway has coached Leavitt Area High School to two football state championships and five state title game appearances since 2009.

While Hathaway was on the sidelines leading those teams, his sons 16-year-old Wyatt, a junior, and 14-year-old Sawyer, a freshman, have been close by, watching and observing intently. 

“I think I’ve been to every practice since I was 5 years old,” Wyatt Hathaway said. “I have just been around a lot.”

Michelle Hathaway, Mike’s wife and Wyatt and Sawyer’s mother, said that Wyatt attended his first game when he was six months old.

Mike Hathaway has led the Leavitt football program for 18 seasons (he has also been the boys varsity basketball coach for the past 11 years), so his sons have grown up following the Hornets. Wyatt and Sawyer have watched and learned from practices, weight-room sessions, film sessions and games for as long as they can remember.

Wyatt’s earliest memory is the Hornets’ 2009 state championship-winning team when he was 6 years old. Since then, his dream has been to bring a team to the title game.

“To me, it means everything,” Wyatt said. “I’ve been trying to be like Jordan Hersom and Eric Theiss (members of the 2009 state championship team), and so it’s just been a lifetime goal to lead the team as a quarterback to the state championship.”

In his second season as Leavitt’s full-time starting quarterback, Wyatt has done just that. The Hornets face Maine Central Institute in Friday’s the Class C state title game at the University of Maine’s Alfond Stadium in Orono.

Mike said that Wyatt has seen first-hand the work that goes into winning titles.

Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway sheds tackles and heads up field as Wells’ Evan Cash, left, and Evan Leach, right, close in during the first half Oct. 12 in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“I think he certainly learned that if you want something then you have to work at it,” Mike said. “As many hours as he’s seen me put in and as many hours as he’s seen the players put in, and the weight room, and he’s been at practices forever — I think that part of it and just his passion for the game of football.”

Mike, who played at Leavitt and graduated in 1992, raves about Wyatt’s on-field IQ and his ability to see things in opposing defenses on the fly. Larry Hathaway, Mike’s father, said that Mike is seeing himself in Wyatt.

“The thing with Wyatt is he’s got the same mentality towards the game as Mike,” Larry said. “He sees things during the game that Michael could see. He audibles on the line, and Michael could do the same thing. He played for Doug (Conn). The mentality towards the game is almost uncanny.”

While Wyatt sees the field as a quarterback does, Sawyer, a slot receiver who also was a fill-in quarterback in middle school, sees football as a coach does. 

“They both have a real tremendous knowledge of Xs and Os, but I think Sawyer has a passion for wanting to be a coach one day and he’s paid a lot of attention to schemes and what we’re running,” Mike said.

Sawyer has been hanging around the Leavitt coaches since he was young — his earliest memory is the 2013 team that claimed the hornets most recent state title. He now uses that accumulated knowledge as an asset in being a leader for the freshman class.

Leavitt football coach Mike Hathaway gives a referee a look during the Class C South championship last week in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

KEEPING FOOTBALL ON THE FIELD

Football has been a main focus in the Hathaway house for years, but it rarely makes it way into the Hathaway house. 

“Our rule is, ‘If it happens on the field, it stays on the field,’” Wyatt said. “We go home, watch a lot of film, but on the field it’s not as much dad and son as it is coach and quarterback. At home, there’s no coach and quarterback, just all family.”

“Wyatt and Mike are good at not bringing it home,” Michelle said. “I think Wyatt personally — Wyatt loves to play and he loves to get on that field and when he walks away he’s like, ‘OK it’s done.’ Tomorrow morning he will get ready to go again.”

Mike has used the guidance of Biddeford coach Brian Curit and Bonny Eagle coach Kevin Cooper to create a balance between family and football. 

“I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t come home with us,” Mike said. “The advice usually is you leave it on the field or leave it in the gym, but there have certainly been some car rides home where we finish the conversation there. I would say anything that’s been negative doesn’t go inside the house.”

LEARNING FROM THE PAST

Because Wyatt and Sawyer have experienced so much football in their lives, they’ve seen the high and lows of Leavitt football up close and personal. 

Leavitt has won state titles in 2009 and 2013, but lost title games in 2010, 2011 and 2014. 

When Wells defeated the Hornets in 2011, Sawyer remembers Wyatt and cousin Keegan Melanson, senior receiver on this year’s team, telling Mike, ‘Don’t worry, when we get up there we will win you one.’ 

Leavitt lost two years ago, Wyatt’s freshman year at quarterback, to Gardiner in the final seconds in the C South semifinal. Then, last year, Wyatt was injured early in the Hornets’ loss to Fryeburg Academy in the C South final. 

Mike believes that Wyatt and the rest of the team have taken the experiences of the past few years and become stronger.

“As a team, we’ve looked at those losses as, we’ve tried to be thankful for them,” Mike said. “Instead of being regretful and sorry they happened, we have tried to be thankful that they happened, and it’s made us tougher and work harder.

“It’s made it so that we aren’t going to back down. We lost a regional final the day after one of our coaches died, and I don’t think it could have gotten any worse for us, and I don’t think it will get much worse for us, at least on a football field. So we are just going to play with that resolve that we aren’t going to flinch at anything.”

Coaching a son, or sons, can be stressful for both parties. But when the Hathaways are not playing and coaching, they relish the moments they can share together around the sport they love. 

“We went to the Bonny Eagle and Thornton game earlier in the year and sat up in the stands and just talked about, ‘What are they going to do here, what will they run,’” Mike said. “To be able to share that with your sons is pretty awesome. To have them both up here this year and coach them both, it’s been a lot of fun.”


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