IRMO, SC (WIS) - Coaches always rely on senior leadership when it comes to their high school football teams and Dutch Fork's roster is filled with upperclassmen.
But Jalin Hyatt isn't one of those players. The 6-foot-1 sophomore has been one of the most explosive playmakers for the Silver Foxes all year long.
"Jalin is a super athlete," said Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts. "He's only a sophomore. He's a great basketball player so I knew how athletic he was. He's got good genes. He wants to do it."
Knotts said Hyatt was forced into playing quarterback for the Dutch Fork B-team, but he later brought him up to the varsity roster and moved him to wide receiver. Since then, all Hyatt has done is make plays. This year, Hyatt has 39 catches for a team-high 909 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. His success could be credited to the longstanding chemistry he's built over the years with quarterback Ty Olenchuk.
"We've had that connection since first grade," Olenchuk said. "We've gone onto elementary school fields just throwing it around. He's still coming down with big plays. To me, he's like a checkdown. Nobody's open? Throw it to Jalin. He's going to come down with it."
Having that sort of knack for the ball is something that Hyatt has taken from New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., who he hopes to continue to model on the field.
"He's very good at route running," Hyatt said of his favorite player. "Everybody knows he's a good catcher. That's what I'm trying to prove. I'm trying to prove my route running. You know, I can catch. I know that, but I definitely want to be Odell. He's a great player. I look up to him."
Currently, Hyatt doesn't have any scholarship offers. However, he said he's receiving letters from several programs. Until that moment comes, he'll remain focused on the task at hand of winning a second straight championship ring.
"Being a sophomore starting in the state championship, that's big," Hyatt said. "But I'm coming into this game like I come into every game – just prepared, focused, mentally and physically. It's a big game. We know that, but we want to come like we come into every game."
Dutch Fork will take on Dorman for the Class 5-A state championship Saturday at noon at Williams-Brice Stadium.