This is not Greg Estep’s first rebuilding project. The new Aiken High School football coach once took over a program in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that was coming off of an 0-16 streak. Estep inherited a struggling Falcons team midway through last season and was promoted from interim to full-time head coach in the offseason.
He spent the offseason building a coaching staff and selling the program to Aiken student-athletes. The Falcons built a core of 15-18 kids who committed to the program throughout the summer and Estep expects to field a roster of 20-25 players. He was encouraged by the number of players who devoted much of their summer to working out with the football team.
“We can work with that number,” he said. “We’re still getting to know the kids and what they’re going through. They’re starting to buy into the new coaching staff.”
Only one coach was retained from last year’s staff. Estep brought his friend Derick Coney up from south Florida to serve as Aiken’s defensive coordinator. The coaches are committed to learning about Aiken’s football history and trying to bring back the heyday of the early to mid-90s.
“We have a nice, young, energetic coaching staff,” Estep said. “We have guys who really want Aiken to be good. We want to get back to playing physical Aiken football.”
This year’s squad will be young, featuring mostly freshmen and sophomores. Only one or two seniors are expected to participate. Junior Samonte Griffin will lead the spread offense. His coaches hope he can emerge as a vocal leader and take control of the offense.
The inexperience this year will be a building block for the future. Three years from now, the Falcons should field a very experienced squad with three- and four-year starters.
“Our expectations are to go out and compete and to get better each practice and game,” said Estep. “Our youth is definitely going to pay off for us. It’s not going to happen overnight. Once we change the culture, it’s just going to continue to get better.”
The Falcons open the season on Aug. 29 at Jefferson Township.
Aug. 29: At Jefferson Township
Sept. 5: Vs. Scott
Sept. 12: Vs. Lockland
Sept. 26: At Taft
Oct. 3: Vs. Hughes
Oct. 9: Vs. Shroder, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17: At Woodward, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: At Western Hills
Oct. 31: Vs. Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy
Unless noted, games begin at 7:30 p.m.