That it happened at all counts as a win.
Norfolk Academy’s Homecoming 2018, the first-ever homecoming football game under the lights on a Friday night...in the new Wynne-Darden stadium...a much-anticipated event with a massive “Orange Out” and a game day BBQ dinner...almost didn’t take place.
After wreaking havoc in Gulf Coast towns in Florida, Hurricane Michael—downgraded to a tropical storm but still packing plenty of punch—barrelled into Hampton Roads on Thursday night, knocking down trees and branches and disabling power in wide swaths of the region.
Norfolk Academy students awoke on Friday to an emergency notification: School was closed due to a campus power outage. Many schools across the region also cancelled, facing the same issue with power outages, despite the beautiful weather that the storm left in its wake.
And the clock kept ticking...noon….one o’clock....until 2:06 p.m., when power was restored to campus (thank you, Dominion Virginia Power), and the word went out: Homecoming is ON!
The fans turned out in huge numbers, packing the stands on a beautifully crisp autumn night. The cheerleaders, with occasional help from the Bulldog (who joined the squad in a few dances and cheerfully high-fived up and down the stands), got the fans fired up.
The pre-game event, the traditional recognition of senior fall athletes --83 of them this season--was greeted with huge enthusiasm, as each student-athlete walked onto the field with parents, creating a line that stretched nearly the full length of the field. The fans stayed on and cheered the Bulldogs to the final minutes, through a halftime recognition of the Class of 2014 alumni who played collegiate sports, and through one exciting play after another, as the Bulldogs came close to toppling the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Saints, who are undefeated this season. Final score: 40-33.
Homecoming events continued to Monday, for a rare event: A post-Homecoming pep rally, featuring the established tradition of a dance-off between seniors of each fall athletic team. This year, the football team took the prize with a dance that included excerpts from Thriller and enough Michael-Jackson inspired dance moves to edge out the other teams.
Class of 2014 alumni recognized at halftime:
Madison Acra, Washington College, lacrosse
Joshua Freeman, Princeton University, track
Elizabeth Gill, Sewanee, University of the South, volleyball
Dustin Runzo, Davidson, wrestling
Greg Washington, Columbia University, football
Grant Wiggins, Villanova, cross country