WYOMING, Ohio — Wyoming junior tailback CJ Hester doesn't think twice about enjoying a Kit Kat and a blue Gatorade in the locker room about 30 minutes prior to every game this season.
"It's funny because it's a Kit Kat and a Gatorade — you wouldn't expect that on game day," Hester said with a smile before practice Tuesday afternoon.
"But I've always been doing that for games, and I've been doing fine — like very good — so I was like, 'I need to have that.'"
There is certainly no reason to change the pre-game snack for Hester, who has rushed for 775 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Cincinnati Hills League), who play at Reading (4-0, 2-0 CHL) Friday night.
"CJ is a tremendous kid," Wyoming coach Aaron Hancock said. "A great young man. He's got a great head on his shoulders, a lot of physical attributes that are off the charts. But just the passion and the desire to be the best that he can be is second to none."
Hester, who is listed at 5 feet, 11 inches and 185 pounds, showed his versatility on the field last week when he scored all of the Cowboys' points in a 30-0 win over visiting rival Indian Hill.
Hester had three rushing touchdowns, converted three two-point conversions, and scored on a 25-yard fumble recovery for the Cowboys, who shut out Indian Hill for the first time since 2001.
"He's got a passion for football," Hancock said. "Just a competitor in all phases. Wants to be the best in everything that he does. I think that can kind of transcend all the way down to your program. Kids see that and want to be a part of that and want to really better themselves along the same lines."
Besides Hester's main duties in the backfield, he also returns kicks and punts and plays safety. He's had 30 or more carries in three games this season and may see up to 40 reps offensively and up to 50 reps on defense.
"He leads us," Wyoming offensive coordinator Keith Jordan said. "He's a kid who wants the ball in his hands every chance he can. He never asks out."
Wyoming running backs coach DeShawn Wynn, a former Reading High School star who won a national title at the University of Florida before his NFL career, is very impressed by Hester's work ethic.
"Throughout each week he comes every day ready to practice and ready to get better," Wynn said. "Very coachable. Just a tough-nosed kid. He's all over the field."
Hester said he's learned to be a leader as a captain this season. He may not be the most vocal player at all times, but his goals are consistent.
"For the team, to be the best version of myself," Hester said. "Just push everybody. Make sure everybody's cool. Make sure everybody's grades are fine. My goal is basically be myself. Don't force to be someone else. Focus on me, focus on the team."
Hester learned some of those leadership qualities as a freshman when he played with current University of Cincinnati quarterback Evan Prater, a 2020 Wyoming High School graduate.
Hester still talks to the former Ohio Mr. Football recipient and values what Prater brought to the program while Hester watched as a middle school student and then as a freshman.
Hester, who was a Division IV first-team all-state selection and Southwest District offensive player of the year as a sophomore in 2020, stays in the moment with a vision for success.
He has scholarship offers from Toledo and Buffalo and interest from programs that include UC, Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa, Iowa State, Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford and Bowling Green.
Hester said the expectations at Wyoming never waver, and that's something he doesn't take lightly, whether at home or on the road. Wyoming has won 51 consecutive regular-season games — the top mark in Ohio for that team category.
"The tradition is incredible," Hester said. "To be a Cowboy is very important. We really embrace it. We love the field. We protect the field. We do anything for each one of us."