On a night when Norfolk Academy held a rousing celebration of its military service members and veterans, the Bulldogs' varsity football team rose to the occasion and earned an impressive win.
The Bulldogs beat Fork Union Military Academy 37-24 on Military Appreciation Night at Wynne-Darden Stadium, posting what Steve Monninger called one of the team's best victories during his time as head coach.
The night is a way for the Norfolk Academy Military Appreciation Club (NAMAC) to highlight and thank current and former service members. Seniors Ethan Thurmond and Raegan Fitzgerald are club co-Presidents this year. Earlier in the week members of the club personally presented t-shirts and thank you notes to many veterans who were honored at halftime; some of those shirts were proudly worn around campus.
“The students in our club want to raise the awareness of the sacrifices of our service members and veterans," said Neil Duffy, Upper School physics teacher, faculty advisor to NAMAC.
Before the game on September 27, veterans and service members representing both schools – as well as the referees – were invited onto the field to display a huge American flag, which had been provided by the Virginia Arts Festival. Players, coaches, and the large crowd stood silently for the National Anthem, sung by Danielle Doss '20.
Navy Rear Admiral H. Wyman Howard III, father of Zack Howard ’20, and retired Army Major General John Ellerson, grandfather of Jasper Doyle ’20, presided over the pregame coin toss. The head game official shared with the team captains that, as captain of the Army football team, Major General Ellerson participated in the 1962 Army-Navy game pregame meeting, in which President John F. Kennedy tossed the coin! This time, Ellerson took the honors.
At halftime, many veterans who are faculty or staff at Norfolk Academy, met on the track. Veterans with children or grandchildren playing football or cheerleading joined them. Fans applauded as the “Armed Forces Medley,” which includes official march songs from the United States Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, played over loudspeakers.
“All of our service members and veterans there appreciated being recognized," Mr. Duffy said.
Back on the field after the halftime ceremony, the Bulldogs staved off a rally from Fork Union. Norfolk Academy led 29-10 late in the third quarter, thanks to stellar offensive efforts from Ben Locke '20 and Jacob Saffold '20. But that lead was cut to 29-24 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs would not be denied, though. They capped a 75-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown run from Doyle, who added the two-point conversion run. AJ Keels '21 secured the win with an interception with 1:34 left.
Saffold finished with 165 rushing yards and one touchdown; he also threw a touchdown pass. Locke caught three passes for 91 yards with two touchdowns; he ran for 75 yards and one touchdown. Doyle rushed for 52 yards and one touchdown; he intercepted a pass on defense. David Smythe '22 threw one touchdown pass and a two-pointer.
“It was so wonderful to see our players rise to the occasion," Mr. Monninger said in his weekly recap. “This football game cemented a lesson of resilience that will last a lifetime for these young men."
Here are almost three dozen service members or veterans who are faculty and staff at Norfolk Academy or football/cheerleading family members. Many were honored Friday night:
- Mr. E. Witt Borum; Navy.
- Mr. George Bunn; Navy.
- Mr. Neil Duffy; Navy.
- Mr. Robert Fleenor; Air Force.
- Commander Martha Gentry; Retired Navy.
- Lt. Commander Jeff Martin; Retired Navy.
- Mr. Larry McCarthy; Army.
- Commander Bernie McMahon; Retired Navy.
- Mr. Glenn Miller; Navy.
- Lt. Commander Robert Needham; Retired Navy.
- Mr. Roy Newton; Navy.
- Mr. Christopher Pandola; Marine Corps.
- Commander Woody Poole; Retired Navy.
- Mr. Nick Rahall; Marine Corps.
- Mr. Joe Robinson; Army.
- Mrs. Virginia Scofield; Coast Guard.
- Ms. Janet Torres; Navy.
- Mr. Shannon Walden; Navy.
- Mr. Earl Ware; Army.
- Mrs. Kim Yager; Navy.
- Capt. Mike Smack; Retired Navy.
- Capt. Mike Zobel; Retired Navy.
- Major General Jack Ellerson; Retired Army.
- Mr. Jack Dorsey; Virginia Army National Guard.
- Capt. Joseph Finn; Retired Navy.
- Commander Ray Fitzgerald; Retired Navy.
- Mrs. Bobbie Galiotos; Army.
- Mr. Paul Galiotos; Army.
- Rear Admiral H. Wyman Howard III; Navy.
- Col. David Lopez; Air Force.
- Mr. Brian Moss Sr.; Navy.
- Mrs. Cynthia Moss; Navy.
- Dr. Hamid Tavakoli; Air Force.
- Mr. Jay Traywick; Marine Corps Reserve.
- Mr. Joe DiGeronimo; Navy.