Sunday , June 18, 2017 - 3:00 AM
LAYTON — If you want to know what Layton High’s most recent boys soccer playoff run was like for senior midfielder Kaden Amano, just watch the scene from Episode II of the “Star Wars” franchise where Yoda battled Count Dooku.
Yoda, despite needing a cane to assist him while walking, used an impressive array of flips as he battled the Count to a stalemate and forced him to flee.
Kaden wasn’t doing flips up and down the soccer field, but he was nonetheless impressive as he gutted out a sprained right ankle, which he suffered in Layton’s final region game. The injury to his dominant leg came in the final five minutes, just moments after Kaden produced the go-ahead goal, when a West player executed what Layton assistant coach and Kaden’s older brother Derek called a “malicious tackle.”
Kaden had to be helped off the field on a cart.
Against American Fork in the 5-A quarterfinals, Kaden helped produce the first goal of the game when he lasered a free kick off the goalkeeper that teammate Isaiah Pratt finished.
Against Copper Hills in the semifinals, Kaden scored the golden goal in the first period of extra time – the only goal of the game. Then in the championship, he was one of five Lancers to make a penalty kick as Layton defeated Herriman 5-3 in a shootout.
“Really, it was unbelievable, because honestly, we would have to help him up to his bedroom because he couldn’t put any weight on (his foot),” said Kaden’s mother, Tracy.
Kaden said he had gone to the physical therapist and was told that it was up to him and whether he thought he could tolerate the pain.
“It was pretty painful, but with the adrenaline with the game, there were points when I’d almost stop feeling it and I’d just be able to play,” Kaden said.
Kaden finished the season with nine goals and seven assists, both team highs, and is the 2017 Standard-Examiner All-Area Boys Soccer Team’s Most Valuable Player.
“Kaden mostly was the creator of our attack,” Derek said. “He had a great offensive season.”
This wasn’t the first time Kaden demonstrated his Yoda-like heroics on the pitch. In 2014, he suffered a quad injury during his comp team’s state cup semifinal game.
Just like this year, Kaden refused to be sidelined. He then produced the tying goal with about 30 seconds left in the second period of extra time in the championship game. His team went on to win 8-7 in a penalty kick shootout.
“It was one of those that I was barely able to walk because it hurt so bad, but I was a team captain, so I just decided I was playing and I was going to man it up,” Kaden said.
Kaden has never known anything except playing soccer. In addition to Derek, he also has an older sister, Alyssa, who is heavily invested in the game. Alyssa played at Layton High and Weber State and now plays for the Real Salt Lake women’s team.
“Since I can remember I just had a ball at my foot,” Kaden said.
Derek said he has been envisioning a state title with Kaden since he first started coaching at Layton after graduating in 2007. Kaden was only eight at the time, but Derek had already noticed how skilled, composed and coachable he was.
Kaden became an impact player for Layton as a freshman. He started Layton’s 5A semifinal game that season and has been a mainstay among the starting 11 ever since. Layton made the playoffs all four years Kaden was on the team and three times made the semifinals.
“He’s kind of like a little prodigy we’ve been building up,” Derek said.
Kaden will continue his soccer career at Westminster College.
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