Leavitt Area High School senior Dayton Calder encourages his teammates Wednesday during practice at the Turner school. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

TURNER — Underclassmen usually are stuck with cleanup duty when football equipment needs to be picked up at the end of a practices.

Leavitt senior Dayton Calder, though, sticks around to help. A similar thing happened during the outdoor track and field season this past spring, when the bus was ready to leave but the team would have to wait for Calder to finish helping the team bring back equipment that was forgotten.

Leavitt Area High School senior Dayton Calder listens from the huddle Wednesday during practice at the Turner school. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Calder was named a Hornets captain because of that type of leadership, along with his explosive plays from the slot position on offense and as a defensive back.

“Other than his insane athletic ability and pure talent, his personality really stands out,” Leavitt senior Brett Coburn said. “He is what you want as a leader. He’s humble, selfless, and when you think of the word ‘captain,’ you think of Dayton.”

Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said that Calder’s impact is clear during games, but in practice, Calder’s teammates see what really makes him special. 

“Every time he takes a rep, it’s full-tilt,” Hathaway said. “If it’s individual work, DB footwork, every rep is done perfectly. In terms of setting it by example, he does a great job with his work ethic and his ability to concentrate in practice.


“I’ve always been impressed with that. Sometimes when someone is so athletic, they tend to take reps off, but not Dayton.”

Calder started playing tackle football in second grade and has been teammates with fellow seniors Sawyer Hathaway and Nick Morin since third grade, and they have seen Calder’s continued improvement through the years.

“He wasn’t the best kid on the team from when he was little, but he’s progressed every year and now he’s one of our best players,” Sawyer Hathaway said. “It’s cool to see him get better and better every year.”

Calder also has learned from his two older brothers, Damion and DaSean, who helped Leavitt win the 2019 state title before graduating in 2020. Dayton credits his brothers for his competitiveness.

“We talk that talk to each other in this and that, but we support each other, and they support me the most,” Calder said. “They always say, ‘You’re going to be the best.’ It drives me to do my best and be the best player I can.”

Leavitt Area High School senior Dayton Calder gets a high-five from assistant coach Jim Theiss during Wednesday’s practice at the Turner school. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Damion has scored the most touchdowns of the three (21, and DaSean totaled 13), but Dayton scored 10 touchdowns in 2021 and said he wants to take over as top touchdown scorer in the family. 


“We compare touchdowns the most,” Calder said. “(Damion) has the most, for sure, but I plan on beating him this year.”

Mike Hathaway said that Dayton Calder has aspects of both his brothers in his offensive game.

“That probably is a thing that is common amongst all three of them, is that they’re really competitive,” Hathaway said. “Dayton probably has the most personality and the most outgoing. The other two were a little quieter. Maybe that’s why he’s such a leader is because he’s vocal and willing to be outspoken.

“They can all run a jet sweep, too. As a player, he has the speed and the big playmaking ability like Damion had but is also a little thicker and can run inside and break tackles like DaSean did, so he’s really a combination of the two.”

Hathaway said that on defense, Calder is a “lockdown corner.” 

“People always try to throw fades on him because he’s short, so he probably gets more throws than he should,” Hathaway said. “They can keep throwing at him. He’s also a very sure tackler and is a really well-rounded football player.”


When asked about his leadership or his play on the field, Calder turns the conversation back toward the team. 

“I try to step up as much as I can,” Calder said. “The team is full of leaders, and I try not to put myself first. We have a lot of leaders, and in my mind, no one sticks out. Even though I am a senior, I don’t feel like I am above anyone else. If work needs to be done, it needs to get done; it doesn’t matter who’s doing it.”

That mindset means something to Hathaway.

“He’s going to do all the right things, say all the right things, and it’s the extra things that he does,” Hathaway said. “That’s the difference between being common and uncommon is the extra things. He puts in the extra effort in the weight room and it’s also with his behavior and in the community.”

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