Hawks Ready To Take Flight Under New Leadership

CHARLOTTE, NC – Change is a force of nature in high school football and the Charlotte Latin Hawks are at a crossroads as a program.

Over a dozen seniors departed, along with five-year head coach Justin Hardin. But this program is built upon family, and the seniors fought tooth and nail to fill the position with a familiar face.

“Yeah that was my big thing with the coaching change was me and the rest of the seniors, we wanted Coach Dayton here because he has been here since we were in seventh grade and he has just been a really big part of this program. So having someone who we’ve known and who’s been leading us this whole time, it’s really special,” said Thomas Lucas, a senior lineman for the Hawks.

A part of Hardin’s staff, Drew Dayton knows he has big shoes to fill, going back to historic head coach Larry McNulty. Dayton said his plan is simple; continue the Latin legacy.

“We’ve got a really good tradition here you know so I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’ve been doing this for so long that, I have no ego, so it is really just about what fits our guys and how can we put them in the best position to be successful,” said Dayton.

One of the keys to success for any new coaching staff is a senior core that is bought in to the philosophy of the new staff. A goal Coach Dayton achieved with this graduating class while they were in middle school.

“There’s a drive that wasn’t there, theres a drive that wasn’t there. (At) practice you can see it, people are hitting harder, people are running faster, people are knowing their stuff better, I mean it’s different,” said Jordan Pence, a senior linebacker for Latin.

For the upperclassmen, specifically the eight seniors acting as anchors on the offensive line, they want to take flight, and stay there each and every game. For Coach Dayton, winning is always on his mind, but his mission means more.

“Just for these kids to have a great experience, playing for Charlotte Latin football is something that you can do only once in your lifetime and so for them to enjoy Friday nights and enjoy being around each other and this coaching staff and just for them to have the best experience they can in 2023,” said Dayton.

The Hawks kick off their season against their new head coach’s alma mater, Mitchell High School, debuting the new era of their program in front of the home crowd.