‘More bitter than sweet.’ Senior linebacker finishes career

football

Senior Matt Layton, who is from Bakersfield, California, ended the season with 58 tackles and 29 in conference. Photo by Gabriella Anderson

Matt Layton, senior football captain and linebacker, isn’t going to go out quietly. Layton said playing in his final game against University of La Verne Nov. 10 was sad and “surreal.”

“It’s more bitter than sweet,” Layton said. “This program is so much fun to be a part of, so all of the seniors are sad to have it end.”

Layton leads the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) in sacks. He recorded a season high of 11 tackles in the game against La Verne, including a touchdown-preventing tackle in the first quarter. Chapman won 55-34.
Head coach Bob Owens said saying goodbye to Layton and the other seniors will be “tough.”

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Owens said. “It’s tough in the sense that you’re losing some guys that have made our life better because they came, and we’d like to hope we made their lives better.”

This season, Layton worked hard to focus on the little things.

“The coaches emphasize to soak it in. Every hour of it. Hanging out in the locker room. All the little stuff. Senior year is fun as a captain. You’re with all your buddies that you’ve grown old with,” Layton said.

Layton has been with the team for four years and has always played with a chip on his shoulder, he said.

Layton wasn’t a starter his freshman year, but each year at Chapman he established a stronger presence on the field. His senior year, he recorded 24 more tackles than he did his junior year and added seven sacks to his credit.His senior year, he was selected as one of the team captains.

“I came in pretty immature and I’ve evolved as a man and as a player,” Layton said.

Dominic Vaccher, senior wide receiver, said he started crying during the last game.

“These guys are really something special,” Vaccher said. “We have a great group of leaders and its not even just the captains. The guys who aren’t the captains can motivate this team and it’s a testament to coach Owens and the program and everything he does. It’s hard saying ‘bye.’”

Layton said this is his final goodbye to football — he’s ready for a new stage of his life.

“In high school, I was much more ready to move on because I knew that there was a next step and I was going to keep playing. Here, it’s more of an end,” Layton said.