The crowd buzzed as students, parents and alumni of Walnut Hills High School poured in
to the stadium to watch the first football game of the Ohio season.
After a long, hot summer of practices, the Walnut Hills Eagles and the Woodward Bulldogs were ready to battle it out on the Walnut Hills High School football field during the U.S. Marines Battle of the Gridiron Tour, Aug. 28.
As kickoff neared, Staff Sgt. Ivory Carter, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Cincinnati, took his place between the team captains to toss the coin. The coin landed on tails in favor of the Bulldogs, and the game began.
Walnut Hills senior and wide receiver A.J. Fletcher ran the ball into the end zone during the first quarter. Carter turned to cheer with the crowd, inciting a celebratory rumble in the stands. Shortly after that, senior Graham Wilz kicked a 37-yard field goal to give Walnut Hills a 9-0 lead in the second quarter.
During the third quarter, Walnut Hills senior John French scored on a 6-yard touchdown run, which was capped by a Wilz extra point. Before the clock ran out, Fletcher scored another touchdown, followed by a Wilz PAT giving Walnut Hills the victory over Woodward 23-0.
“I love being able to get involved with the high schools when football season comes around,” said Carter, a native of San Jose, California. “Their motivation motivates me, and I love being a part of that.”
During the game, a group of Marine recruiters set up a pull-up bar challenge near the stands to offer the juniors and seniors a challenge of their own. The class that completed the most pull-ups by the fourth quarter claimed victory. The senior class won the challenge with 113 pull-ups. The junior class accumulated 58. Students earned free prizes according to the amount they completed and were given an opportunity to learn more about what the Marine Corps has to offer.
“I love coming out and speaking with motivated individuals,” Carter said. “It’s fun to watch students challenge each other on the pull-up bar and get excited about two teams battling it out on the field.”
During the summer and throughout the fall season, Marines continue to build relationships with the schools and their football programs. They offer leadership and fitness seminars to help high school football teams enhance their teamwork and athletic skills in the form of a Combat Fitness Challenge. These leadership seminars demonstrate how the fundamentals of teamwork and leadership found in high school athletes are synonymous with the Marine Corps’ values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.
“We are committed to the Corps values that the Marine Corps holds dear and central,” said Tom Donnelly, athletic director at Walnut Hills High School. “All of our endeavors help instill or nurture those kinds of values in our kids so that those children and young adults become the men and women that we all need them to be to be leaders and to be champions and scholars. That’s the business we’re in, so it’s quite compatible.