MARIEMONT, Ohio — Wyoming senior tailback CJ Hester had a significant motivation for switching jersey numbers Friday night.
Instead of wearing his familiar No. 33, the all-state running back chose to wear No. 23 in recognition of his cousin who Hester said was paralyzed while playing football earlier this season.
Hester said he spoke with his cousin earlier this week for several hours and wanted to give him a tribute on the field. His cousin asked if Hester could wear his jersey number for him.
Hester happily obliged and scored three rushing touchdowns in the Cowboys' 40-9 win at Mariemont Friday night. Hester has scored 21 rushing touchdowns and 25 touchdowns overall this season.
"It just means a lot," Hester said. "Family is everything to me. Family is important to me."
Wyoming coach Aaron Hancock said Hester is a humble student-athlete who understands a life perspective beyond football, too. That showed on Friday night especially as Hester continued to gain yardage after contact.
"Being able to use his platform to honor his cousin shows a lot about his character," Hancock said.
"However, every single day that you meet CJ says a lot about his character, honestly. Every single day he presents himself very humbly. He is a very humble person. He has a great family and he loves his family. It's fun to watch. The kid has grown up before our eyes and has become a great young man and is really having a lot of fun playing football. I think every week he is going to get better and better."
Wyoming (8-0, 5-0 Cincinnati Hills League) won its 55th consecutive regular-season game – the best in the state regardless of division – including its 40th consecutive CHL game. The Cowboys are 8-0 for the sixth consecutive season and are in a good position to potentially capture their sixth consecutive CHL title.
Sophomore quarterback Quaid Hauer connected with junior wide receiver Matty Mitchell for two touchdown pass connections Friday night. Sophomore DJ Gray scored on a 50-yard touchdown reception, too. Wyoming led Mariemont 20-3 at halftime after trailing after the first quarter.
"Our kids are getting better and better every week," Hancock said. "These guys have a mentality that they are going to improve Monday through Thursday so that can perform better on Friday."
Wyoming plays at Finneytown Oct. 15. Mariemont (6-2, 3-2 CHL) plays host to Reading Oct. 15.