No matter what uniform Hayden Maynor wore while representing Soddy-Daisy High School, his competitive desire remained the same whenever he entered an athletic arena — and luckily for the Trojans, it was always intense.
From fighting for tough yards and making big tackles under the Friday night lights, to breaking the will of opponents on the wrestling mat, to not backing down against those challenging him from the pitcher's mound, Maynor earned a nickname that offers high praise and sums up what he meant to the school's sports scene.
"The Man of Troy" is what Soddy-Daisy athletic director Jared Hensley called the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Maynor, whose senior baseball season was taken away when the TSSAA was forced to cancel spring sports this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Living and playing with no fear is a result of where I come from," said Maynor, who will play college baseball at Cleveland State. "I moved in with my grandparents after my mom and dad had been through hard times and in and out of jail.
"I don't care who is in front of me. Who I am having to make a move on in football, who I am wrestling or who is pitching against me. Everybody puts their shoes and pants on the same way. Just because someone might be a Division I athlete doesn't mean they will be better than me. Let's go at it and see who is better is the way I think."
As a running back and linebacker this past fall, Maynor led the Trojans to a second straight Region 4-5A football championship.
One game that highlighted his versatility and importance to the team was a crucial 14-7 victory at Rhea County, where he made 22 tackles, forced a fumble on the Trojans' 3-yard line to prevent a score, rushed for 164 yards and added 41 receiving yards. Another big individual performance came against Bradley Central as he totaled 192 yards and four touchdowns.
One of his biggest fans has been right beside him through his athletic accomplishments. Hunter Maynor, who played quarterback for the Trojans and put up prolific numbers as a senior in the 2014 season, has taken extreme joy in seeing his younger brother succeed, too.
"Whenever I look back on film of a big play I make, you can see he is the first one jumping up and going crazy," Hayden said. "In wrestling this year I have a video of me winning the state semifinals match, and he is going nuts the whole time. He's been my No. 1 supporter and the person I look up to the most because of it, really. He was a star here when he was a senior, and I felt like it was my turn to shine and make the big plays."
Maynor showed he was ready.
As a junior, he took over as the Trojans' lead back after the graduation Ty Boeck — now excelling as a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga linebacker — and totaled 985 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns on 191 touches despite playing with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the 2018-19 wrestling season.
However, he helped lead the Trojans to the District 5-AAA baseball title last spring — he hit .320, led the team in runs scored (36) and walks (29) and stole 18 bases — and then made his final high school football season memorable, too. Using a combination of power, shiftiness and exceptional vision to find running lanes, he rushed for 1,116 yards and 14 touchdowns on 170 carries. He also made 22 catches for 306 yards and six scores, racked up 98 tackles and forced four fumbles.
"My teammates thought highly of me and believed in me along with my coaches," said Maynor, who started all 10 games as a freshman as a roving linebacker/safety for the Trojans. "If they believed in me, then I had to believe in myself. The offensive line really talked me up in the locker room, and I couldn't do it without them. I was ready for the workhorse role the team put me in."
Maynor finished his Trojans football career with 306 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions, nine forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, 2,874 offensive yards and 36 touchdowns.
"Hayden is just a gritty, hard-nosed, Soddy-Daisy-type player," football coach Justin Barnes said. "He has had a huge impact on three programs. He knows he can go out and compete with anyone who steps in front of him, and he's proven it time and time again. He has given us 110% every play and really could do it all for us."
Worth the work
Maynor also stood out for a wrestling program that has three state titles and six runner-up finishes this century.
This past season, he beat Bradley Central standout Tyrone McDonald 6-1 for a region championship and won his first four matches at the Class AAA state traditional tournament to reach the 182-pound final. His semifinal came down to the last overtime, during which he had to hold his opponent down and then escape late to win.
"Wrestling has taught me the most about life," said Maynor, who lost the championship match 5-1 to Blackman's Brooks Sacharczyk and finished his senior season with a 33-4 record. "The struggles of cutting weight, the workouts and having to kill yourself almost with all the running. But when that hard work pays off, it feels great.
"It's kind of like work. You have to do hard work, and then you get the paycheck. At the end of the day, all the hard work you put in will pay off."
Although he couldn't play baseball this spring, he found ways to make an impact, helping remove trees, repair fences and mow yards in East Brainerd as that community recovered from the Easter night tornado. Working while in high school has not been unusual for him, though, because he also has spent nearly three years with Athletic Turf Management and worked on fields around town.
Maynor said he can play any position on the diamond needed at Cleveland State. Playing for the Chattanooga Cyclones select baseball team, he said it was the late George Koontz who helped him get noticed by the Cougars.
Having added to the Maynor legacy at Soddy-Daisy, he is humbled by what he has accomplished and excited to hand the reins to his cousin Landon, a rising senior who recently received a baseball scholarship offer from Division II Lee University.
"Coming in as a freshman, I heard people talk about me being that dude when I became a senior," Hayden said. "Hearing Coach Hensley call me 'The Man of Troy' kind of makes me feel like I accomplished what I needed to.
"I never knew anyone spoke of me that highly. Every second here has been worth it."