Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway sheds tackles and heads up field as Wells’ Evan Cash, left and Evan Leach, right, close in on the Hornet quarterback during the first half of an October football game in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Even before he started playing varsity football for his father, Mike, two years ago, Leavitt junior Wyatt Hathaway was usually among the first to find out what the Hornets’ game plan would be each week.

“They coaches meet at my house each week and my room’s right above where they’re meeting, so I’m always listening,” he said.

Armed with a full year of varsity experience and maturity, Wyatt Hathaway felt more emboldened to speak up this season, perhaps not at the weekly coaches meeting but at practice and during games. Whether it was a blocking scheme or a route adjustment or some part of the opposing defense he felt the Hornets could exploit, the quarterback wasn’t afraid to put in his two cents.

“Last year, we had a lot of older guys on the field, so I didn’t really say a ton,” Wyatt said. “Now that I kind of felt like I was an older guy and I would need to lead the offense, every day I was, ‘What if we do this? What if we do that?'”

Given more responsibilities, Hathaway thrived, and perhaps more important, helped the embarrassment of offensive riches surrounding him flourish, resulting in an undefeated season and Leavitt’s first Class C state championship since 2013. For his efforts, he is the 2019 Sun Journal All-Region Football Player of the Year.

Hathaway had a long way to go physically and emotionally to become the lynchpin of Leavitt’s offense and a team leader in his junior year.

His sophomore season ended in the worst way possible. Leavitt assistant coach Pete Casey, the father of close friend and teammate Tommy Casey, died on the eve of the Class C South championship game against Fryeburg. Then in the game itself, Hathaway suffered a game-ending knee injury late in the first half of the Hornets’ 20-13 loss.

The injury didn’t require surgery, and Hathaway went on to lead Leavitt’s basketball team to one of its best seasons in decades, but the way the football season ended and the empty feeling it left him with hardly dissipated.

Leavitt quarterback Wyatt Hathaway fires a pass during the Class C South championship in Turner in November. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“It motivated me a lot because I was in the weight room in the summer with my dad trying to get a lot stronger, so I didn’t get injured and couldn’t help my team,” Wyatt said. “It’s the worst feeling when you’re helpless and you know you can’t play to help your guys.”

Hathaway’s improved strength and durability and increased awareness led Mike Hathaway to expand the playbook to include more RPO (run/pass option) plays than it had ever had before, even with outstanding running quarterbacks such as 2012 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Jordan Hersom.

Wyatt wasn’t just calling and running the plays, though. He was also frequently diagnosing how the defense was reacting to them, and would give his coaches the kind of insight that can only come from a quarterback’s perspective of the action. The coaches would use that information to make their adjustments.

“He’d give us a lot of good information about the defensive line,” Mike said, “like whether he thinks they’re going to bite real hard on the read plays, or he’d tell us the leverage a corner is playing on a certain receiver.”

Perhaps his most significant growth came in how he dealt with adversity. To Wyatt, it was about being a leader.

“Last year during football season, I was 14,” he said. “There was definitely a lot of maturing I needed to do. I’d kind of stick to myself because I didn’t really want to hear from people. But this year I was up more on the sideline talking to everyone and trying to get everyone going.”

“Last year, he would go to the sideline and kind of isolate himself if he made a mistake,” Mike said. “In the state game this year, he was upset he was taking too many sacks, but instead of using it the wrong way, he used it the right way and talked to the coaches and the line about moving protection and moving the pocket.”

The Hornets kept opposing defenses in their pocket to the tune of 38.5 points per game thanks not only to Hathaway’s running (776 yards, 10 touchdowns) and passing (102-for-155, 1,804 yards, 19 TDs), but his ability to keep all of Leavitt’s enviable stockpile of weapons involved. Although Wyatt would argue that was the easiest part of playing quarterback for the Hornets.

“All of those guys, we’ve been so close forever, we don’t really care who’s shining as long as it’s one of us and nobody on the other team,” Wyatt said. “It was fun having so many weapons. I think every single one of our receivers, if you put them on another team, the defense is putting their lockdown corner and their best safety on him. When you’ve got four of those and the other team can’t really do anything about it, it’s fun.”

He clearly had more fun than opposing quarterbacks, particularly when the Hornets called upon Wyatt to lend a hand in the secondary against pass-happy teams. In what amounted to three games on defense, he registered 10 tackles and five interceptions, including three in one game against Cape Elizabeth, one of which he returned 95 yards for a touchdown.

“I definitely did not expect (to contribute on defense), but I’m glad I got a chance,” Wyatt said.

He’s also thankful he got a chance to send his senior teammates out with a state championship.

“It’s definitely not going to be the same next year playing without those 15, 16 seniors I’ve been playing with since I was in second grade and they were in third grade,” Wyatt said. “But I’m not really thinking about it that way. I’m thinking of all of the memories that we’ve had.”

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