By Garth Shanklin
The parking lot at the old Amelia High School was once again filled with people anxiously awaiting a gridiron contest, but unlike usual, the high school teams were nowhere to be found.
Instead, parents and relatives from all over the area descened upon the newly-named West Clermont Middle School for the second annual football jamboree game.
The highlight of the day was the first contest, a game that saw the West Clermont Barons take on the Glen Este Trojans in a clash between the two schools that had not been played for quite some time. When the dust settled and the sun set, roughly 50 games were played during the event, which went well according to West Clermont Youth Football and Cheer Public Relations director Keith Bender.
“It went well, a lot of games got played,” Bender said. “Nobody got hurt or anything like that. We probably played two weekends worth of games, warm-ups began at 8 a.m., we started at 9. Three fields going, there were probably about 50 games.”
Teams from Batavia, Western Brown, Bethe, Goshen, Fayetteville and Anderson were among the participating squads. In addition to the on-field action, various vendors were in place throughout the campus.
“There was quite a mixture of teams from all over,” Bender said. “We had lots of vendors and stands with food to eat.”
Bender added that fans in attendance got to see “good, competitive” football that helped honor the kids who played well.
“Each game, there was a player of the game given out by the opposing team,” Bender said. “The opposing coaches would determine who they thought was the best player on the other team during the game.”
In terms of the youth program itself, the event was designed to help bridge the gap between the two squads, who some still see as rivals.
“The middle school and high school are together, but the two youth groups aren’t together yet,” Bender said. “That’s something that we’re talking about putting together in the future, but right now Glen Este has their own youth program and we have ours, that’s why the game is so important. We’re trying to bring together community between two rival schools.”
West Clermont High School head coach Nick Ayers has also been involved in the process, according to Bender. Ayers was on hand Saturday, August 12 to perform a ceremonial coin toss prior to he game.
“[Ayers] has been great at trying to get that together,” Bender said. “It’s a work-in-progress, obviously there are people on both ends who have that rivalry and bitterness a little bit, but if you put the kids first, with a few more years of working at it…”
Ayers added that he personally wanted to play a role in helping people in both communities move forward together.
“I personally wanted to squash that,” Bender said. “I don’t have animosity toward either side, I think we need to work together for the kids and the future of the school. We need to play together, have good sportsmanship, have a good time and teach these kids things other than the sports stuff, like teamwork, sticking together and community.”
Bender added one more note, thanking their opponent for taking part in the game.
“West Clermont wants to extend a thank-you to Glen Este, we’re thankful to them coming out. We just want to get these kids ready together for their future as Wolves.”