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MMHS student is Gatorade's player of year

In its 31st year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, has announced Aidan Dayton of Maple Mountain High School in Mapleton as its 2015-16 Gatorade Utah Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Dayton is the first Gatorade Utah Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Maple Mountain High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Dayton as Utah’s best high school boys soccer player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in May, Dayton joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports including Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook HS, Mich.), Heather O’Reilly (2001-02, East Brunswick HS, N.J.) and Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.).

The 5-foot-11, 155-pound junior defender and midfielder had led the Golden Eagles to a 12-1 record at the time of his selection. Dayton scored eight goals and passed for 14 assists through 13 games. A veteran of the Region IV Olympic Development Program and Real Salt Lake Academy, he leads a Maple Mountain defense that has recorded eight shutouts and allowed just seven goals.

Dayton has maintained a 3.79 GPA in the classroom. A devoted member of his church community and a peer tutor in his school, he has participated in multiple trips to assist orphanages in rural Mexico.

“Dayton is smart and creative in his offense,” said Shane Ferrin, head coach at Spanish Fork High School. “He’s intuitive on defense and he brings his entire team up with his significant effort and positive attitude.”

Dayton will begin his senior year of high school this fall.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Dayton joins recent Gatorade Utah Boys Soccer Players of the Year Christian Bain (2014-15, Alta High School), Lucas Cawley (2013-14, Viewmont High School), Matthew Coffey (2012-13, Brighton High School), Taylor Fankhauser (2011-12, Brighton High School), Derek Boggs (2010–11, Alta High School), Thomas Loomis (2009-10, Brighton High School), James Rogers (2008–09, Highland High School), Jake Hustedt (2007-08, Jordan High School) and Jake Cook (2006-07, East High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.