At 47 years old, Reid Ebert still hangs out with some of his football buddies from E.C. Glass High School.
When he happens to see others around Lynchburg, say at a grocery store, there’s an immediate bond that transcends the 30 years that have passed since the fall of 1988, when E.C. Glass won its most recent state football title.
“It’s all hugs,” Ebert said about bumping into old teammates.
There will soon be another chance for embraces, for peeling back the years to reminisce over the most celebrated football season at the midtown school.
Glass will honor its 1988 football team, which finished 14-0 and garnered the Group AAA title in the Virginia High School League, on August 4 at the University of Lynchburg’s (formerly Lynchburg College) Drysdale Center.
The event is part of Glass’ Hall of Fame endeavors, which began in 2011.
Back in ’88, Glass wasn’t expected to make a state championship run. It had lost plenty of top-tier players from the year prior, when it went 11-1. Local media outlets dubbed ’88 a rebuilding year. It turned into much more.
“They proved everybody wrong,” said Kay Vaughan, who along with her husband, J.P., heads the school’s Hall of Fame committee.
Vaughan, a former English teacher at Glass, watched the entire season unfold. On the day Glass traveled to Richmond to play Huguenot in the championship game, though, she had a dilemma: a sick child.
She and J.P. decided to flip a coin to see which one of them would stay in Lynchburg and which would go to the big game. Kay won and hit the road.
“I remember their motto was ‘We don’t rebuild. We reload,’ Vaughan said of the Hilltoppers’ season.
Glass was backed by Ruben Brown, who went on to play with the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears, eventual VHSL player of the year B.B. Shavers, and a knowledgeable coach in Bo Henson.
Only a handful of players, Ebert said, played on both offense and defense, which led to a healthy, fresh roster.
Glass won a few close games at the beginning of the season. It defeated Heritage 14-7 in Game 2 and clipped William Fleming 7-6 in Game 4 before holding off Heritage 21-14 to close out the regular season.
It wasn’t until the tail-end of the fall that Ebert, an all-state senior center, knew his team was special.
The third matchup with Heritage sealed the deal for the youngster. Based on the previous meetings with Heritage in ’88, the Northwest Regional semifinal was expected to be a nail-biter.
But Glass won 37-0.
“Heritage had some great athletes themselves,” Ebert said. “I remember a lot of people were nervous. I remember saying to myself, and saying to some of my coaches, ‘We’ve come too far to lose this game.’ I knew in my heart that we were gonna win.”
The Hilltoppers went on to wax Potomac, blank Norcom and defeat Huguenot 22-7 for the title. Heritage’s 14 points, scored in the regular-season finale, were the most any team put up on Glass that season.
Before the Hilltoppers made the trip to Richmond for the state title game, players met with alums from a different era when members of the school’s 1938 state championship team paid them a visit during a pep rally. It had been 50 years since that state title.
“It was an honor meeting the more mature guys who had done it before us,” said Ebert, who was 17 years old at the time and went on to play postgraduate football at Fork Union Military before suiting up collegiately at Emory & Henry.
And when the crowds that had packed City Stadium also showed up in Richmond and Glass completed the perfect season, Ebert was jubilant.
“This may sound silly,” he said, “but other than my two sons being born, that was probably the most euphoric, intoxicating feeling I’ve ever had. We were on cloud nine.”
That Glass team featured 67 players, six coaches, a trainer and four managers.
It was first time Glass had won a state championship in a major sport since the school was integrated when two black students, Owen Cardwell Jr. and Lynda Woodruff, walked into the all-white hallways in 1962.
The Hilltoppers have enjoyed strong seasons and slogged though lean ones since 1988, finishing as state runners-up in 1991 and ’92.
It hasn’t won a state title since ’88, however, although a football revival has swept through the school in recent years.
“It’s one of my favorite stories to talk about,” Vaughan said of the state championship season. “It was a real special time.”
The Aug. 4 banquet and induction begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.