Leavitt offensive line coach Dave Bochtler wanted the Hornets’ front to be an exclamation point for the team by the end of this season.

The players on the offensive line followed through, and they helped Bochtler put an exclamation point on a football coaching career that lasted 35 years.

Leavitt offensive line coach Dave Bochtler coached his final game for the Hornets in Saturday’s Class C state championship game. Dustin Williamson photo

Bochtler’s final game on the sidelines was Saturday, when the Hornets captured the Class C state championship with a 46-6 victory over Medomak Valley.

He began his coaching career at Lewiston in 1988 under Skip Capone, and he spent some time coaching youth football until Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway gave Bochtler a call in 2002 when Hathaway got the head coaching job at his alma mater.

“We compliment each other very well and have such a good relationship that we have been able to build this pretty effective offensive system,” Hathaway said. “… Our offense has evolved so much over time, and a big part of that are just discussions he and I are having about how the techniques and schemes people are using to defend us and how we can counter that. I will really miss those conversations.”

Bochtler’s value extends beyond just Leavitt. Earlier this season, Cape Elizabeth coach Sean Green called Bochtler the best offensive line coach in the state. And he is routinely asked to be an assistant coach at the Lobster Bowl because other coaches want to learn from him, according to his daughter, Catherine Labrie, who said her dad “has been the guru of all things offensive line for coaches across the state for over 30 years.”


Hathaway said that having Bochtler on his staff has meant the world to him. The closeness with Hathaway is part of the reason why this was the right time to go out for Bochtler.

“This was definitely going to be it, one way or the other,” Bochtler said. “I’m very close with the Hathaway family, and I’ve been with Mike for a long time — 20 years, I guess. … There were a number of issues that were deciding. I didn’t want to go out the way that it ended last year (in the regional final against Cape Elizabeth). And I wanted to go out with Sawyer Hathaway, Mike’s son. I was there at the hospital when the kid was born, I’ve known him his entire life, and I wanted to go out when Sawyer got done.

“So this, from the beginning, was going to be my last game, no matter what. I’m just glad it ended the way that it did.”

Leavitt offensive line coach Dave Bochtler gets a hug from Sawyer Hathaway. Bochtler coached his final game for Leavitt in Saturday’s Class C state championship game. Dustin Williamson photo

Sawyer Hathaway was one of only a handful of returning starters for Leavitt this season. That included just one full-time starting offensive lineman, Beau Mayo, coming back. Jace Negley also was a key returner on the line after getting some starts in place of injured teammates. After that, the front line was unknown commodity for the Hornets.

“So I had a lot of question marks,” Bochtler said. “And what I told the kids, I said, ‘Listen, we’re going to be good, guys. You can’t not be good with the skills kids that we have.’ They’re just so good and so fast. I said, ‘The question mark is you. And so what we have to do, is through the course of the year, turn that question mark into an exclamation point. And that’s what I’m going to work on. We’re going to be better than we are right now.'”

Mike Hathaway saw that weekly improvement all the way to the state championship game, when the Hornets racked up 441 yards of offense (241 rushing, 200 passing).


“If you look at the way we blocked,” Hathaway said, “especially in the playoffs, (Bochtler) helped them rise to that challenge.”

Hathaway said following Saturday’s win that the offensive line made moving the ball and scoring appear easy for the Hornets.

Part of that was Bochtler and Hathaway not allowing the linemen to fail.

Leavitt offensive line coach Dave Bochtler coached his last game for the Hornets and head coach Mike Hathaway (foreground) in Saturday’s Class C state championship game. Dustin Williamson photo

“One of the ways that I coach is I find out what is this particular kid’s skill set, what can they exceed in and succeed in certain blocks,” Botchtler said. “And what I did is I learned where kids were good at particular things, and Mike did a great job of calling plays that our kids could succeed at. We only wanted plays that we put our kids in positions to succeed.

“So we didn’t pull certain kids, we didn’t run certain plays at certain kids, because that wasn’t in their skill set. But when we did call plays that was in their skill set, they were successful, they felt encouraged, they felt validated, they felt good about what they were doing. And so our kids played with a lot of confidence because we only put them in positions to succeed, and call plays accordingly.”

Hathaway said the line played great all year.


“Our skill guys were phenomenal, but their ‘skills’ were enhanced by how well the line played to get them in the space,” he added.

Mayo, the elder statesman of the line, got to show off his skills in the state championship game, much to the delight of Bochtler. After Sawyer Hathaway caught a short pass from quarterback Noah Carpenter, Hathway turned his back to the end zone and tossed a lateral to Mayo, who took it the rest of the way for a first-half touchdown — the first score of Mayo’s high-school career.

“Man, I’ve been coaching for 35 years and it is probably — I mean, other than coaching my own son (Buck) in the ’09 state championship — that has to be one of the highlights of my career,” Bochtler said. “… Seeing one of my guys, who worked so hard to make these other guys get all the accolades and score the touchdowns, to do one himself, it was awesome.”

Bochtler said the 2009 state championship team, which went 12-0 and beat Cape Elizabeth in the Class B state final, has been the standard of Leavitt football. He added about this year’s team, that “these guys certainly stand up very well.”


The state championship win was bittersweet for Mike Hathaway, and not just for coaching one last time with Bochtler at Leavitt.


It was Hathaway’s final time coaching Sawyer, and next season will be the first time since 2016 that Hathaway won’t have a son on the high school team. That was the season before Wyatt, who graduated in 2021, entered the high school program.

“All three of us have spent a lot of hours on the fields together from the time they were old enough to walk, so to get this opportunity has been really special for me,” Hathaway said. “A lot of coaches get to coach their kids, but not many get to celebrate a state championship with both on the field (in 2019) and not many get to see both sons play their last football game as a state champion. It’s definitely something that I won’t take for granted.”

Leavitt head football coach Mike Hathaway is swarmed by his team after the Hornets defeated Medomak Valley 46-6 to win the Class C state championship Saturday at Cameron Stadium in Bangor. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Hathaway said the last two years have been an uphill battle for his family, for a variety of reasons. That included not getting to follow up an undefeated championship season in 2019 — with Wyatt the junior quarterback and Sawyer a freshman trying to carve out a role — with another shot in 2020, which would have been Wyatt’s senior tackle football season. COVID-19 had other ideas. Then came the heartbreaking regional final loss to Cape Elizabeth in 2021. And, Hathaway said, Sawyer has battled heath issues over the past year and a half, including kidney stones that some days caused him to barely be able to walk.

“Seeing him work so hard and play so well all year was awesome. Then to finish it off with a state championship was the icing on the cake,” Mike Hathaway said. “… His toughness and resiliency is just really unmatched from most of the humans I know.”

The next kid-less era as Leavitt coach will only last one season for Hathaway, whose youngest son, Jackson, will be a freshman in the fall of 2024.

“It’s been great coaching my kids. There are days when it’s harder because of it, for sure, but my kids and I all share a real passion for football, especially here at Leavitt,” he said. “They love sports and they love to compete, so as a dad that loved that, too, when I was a kid, makes it pretty rewarding. It’s been a pretty cool run these last 10 years or so coaching their teams and their friends all the way up through, and we have shared so many special experiences along the way.”

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