Cokeville’s record-setting head football coach, Todd Dayton, will retire at the end of the 2021 season.
No Wyoming high school football coach has won more games, been the head coach for more seasons or won more state championships in the Equality State than Dayton.
Dayton’s retirement was first reported by SVI Media on Facebook.
Dayton was honored during Cokeville’s homecoming game Friday afternoon against Thermopolis. Among the dignitaries were Gov. Mark Gordon, WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird, state representatives, school board members and Cokeville administrators.
Keith Nate, an assistant coach and fellow Cokeville graduate who joined Dayton for almost his entire coaching career at Cokeville, was also honored. Nate has had multiple sclerosis for many years but has continued coaching and being part of the football program.
The Cokeville football field was renamed Nate-Dayton Field in honor of both coaches.
In remarks to the crowd before the game, Gordon told the crowd the naming of the field was fitting when “you really think about the amount of effort Mr. Nate and Mr. Dayton put in.” Gordon also called Friday “the greatest day for the greatest field in Wyoming.”
A 1970 graduate of Cokeville High School, Dayton taught and coached in Kemmerer for six years as an assistant before taking over the head coaching position at his alma mater in 1980.
Dayton is Wyoming’s all-time leader among high school football coaches in victories, games coached, seasons coached and state championships, among other records. He has led the Panthers since 1980, the 2021 season representing Dayton’s 42nd as the Panthers’ leader.
He helped Cokeville win 20 state championships in his time as head coach, including a state-record six consecutive titles between 1986 and 1991. The Panthers also won four straight titles from 1993-96, three consecutive titles from 2001-03, back-to-back titles in 1983-84, 2010-11 and 2013-14, and a championship in 1998. Ten of his teams went undefeated. The Panthers also won a program-best 26 games in a row from 1987-90, a streak that’s in the top 10 of Wyoming winning streaks.
Entering Week 5 of the 2021 season, Dayton had a career record of 343-69, a winning percentage of .833. His winning percentage is the highest among all Wyoming football coaches with at least 50 victories.
Dayton also coached Cokeville’s boys basketball team for 30 years, with the 2022 season set to be his 31st. He coached the team from 1981-2007 and again from 2019 to 2021, winning titles in 1981, 1990 and 1997.
The coach who’s No. 2 on Wyoming’s all-time football victory list, Natrona’s Steve Harshman, entered Week 5 with 215 victories in Wyoming, 128 fewer than Dayton.