CINCINNATI -- Glen Este has spent all season honoring its football past. On Friday night, however, it’s all going to be about the senior class -- the final senior class going on “The Last Ride” before hanging up the purple Trojans football jerseys for good.
The Trojans (1-8) will close out their 53rd and final high school football season at 7 p.m. Friday by hosting Eastern Cincinnati Conference rival Milford (2-7). Glen Este has compiled a 224-320-3 record all time and has reached the Ohio football playoffs six times since 2000, including each of the past two seasons. The postseason isn’t a possibility this season, so all they want is one more win before Glen Este merges with Amelia High School next year as the West Clermont Wolves.
They want win No. 225.
“It’s super important," fifth-year Trojans coach and 1999 Glen Este graduate Nick Ayers said. "You only remember the last game. You only remember the last thing you did, so if we carry a win into the next sport they play or whatever they do, it sort of changes the momentum. We need to develop that momentum and keep it up.”
One win in nine games so far isn’t the season the senior class wanted, but as Ayers said, a win on Senior Night would change everything.
“It would mean everything for the community, for the fans, for the students and for us,” Glen Este senior defensive back/running back Elijah Johnson said. “You go out with a win in the last game ever for Glen Este, people are going to remember that. Maybe they won’t remember our season, but that last game, there will be a ton of fans there and alumni from years before.”
Glen Este invited all alumni back earlier this season, gave them T-shirts and had them out on the field for a drone photoshoot. Tours of the school have been available to alumni groups at each home game and will be again Friday.
In fact, those types of activities for alumni and community members will continue throughout the rest of the athletics seasons this school year. But this game is for the seniors, who quickly embraced Ayers’ theme of “The Last Ride” when practice began this summer.
Football, band, cross country, tennis and cheerleading seniors will be recognized on the field with their parents prior to the game. The band will have its final opportunity to play at halftime. Student groups have organized a final tailgate party prior to the game as well.
“What we’re really trying to do is make this about our seniors because this is the last class to go through Glen Este,” said Dan Simmons, in his 19th year as athletic director at the school. “We don’t want to sell them short, so we’re trying to do a lot of special things for them.”
The Last Ride phrase was a special slogan Ayers came up with prior to the season, much like he does before every season. Like the others, this one just came to him.
“God gives it to you,” Ayers said. “Every slogan we’ve had, I’ve sort of come up with it and ran it by the seniors. Typically, they’ve always loved it. In my mind, I’m so passionate about this place and this district and these kids. It’s easy to come up with that stuff.”
It’s become a rallying cry that each team at the school has picked up on this fall.
“I believe that from the athletic point of view, they know that they’re closing things out,” Simmons said. “Coach Ayers has come up with a great theme of the last ride and that seems to be our prevailing theme on all our seasons. It’s our one last time to shine and do the best that we can do.
“These seniors have been great. They understand what’s going on.”
The Trojans lost their first five football games this season with an inexperienced roster and have lost three straight since a 12-6 win at Withrow Sept. 30. Despite the record, Ayers’ team has continued to show up for work.
“They really have embraced the last ride persona of our group and they continue to show up and work hard,” Ayers said. “They’re developing as leaders and they’re going to be great young adults.”
That just leaves a final showdown with Milford and a game the Trojans want so badly to win.
“We need to play a disciplined football game, control the ball and take care of the football,” Ayers said. “If we take care of the football and we tackle well, we’ll be OK.”