While the result on the field wasn’t what Eastern View High School football players and fans wanted, the rest of Friday night’s Homecoming festivities at Cyclone Stadium put plenty of smiles on the faces of those in attendance.
Like the rest of Virginia’s high schools, EVHS was forced to hold a much smaller Homecoming last winter due to the Virginia High School League opting to postpone the 2020 football season to early 2021. Gov. Ralph Northam’s limits on the amount of people allowed at public gatherings also ensured a very different Homecoming aesthetic than the Cyclone faithful were used to in previous years.
The EVHS student body, along with Cyclone fans and alumni, took advantage of the opportunity to rekindle traditional Homecoming pageantry by packing the stands well in advance of Friday’s game.
After the game ticked into halftime, the EVHS administration honored Mark Settle, who retired on Aug. 31 after spending the previous 13 years as the Cyclones’ athletic director. He was hired to start the school’s athletic program prior to its opening in August 2008 and subsequently built it into one of the most respected in the state, overseeing the development of championship teams in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, field hockey, wrestling, cheerleading and a handful of other sports over the next decade-plus.
“This is a great honor,” said Settle, who was presented with a pair of framed jerseys—one with his last name emblazoned on the back of it and another signed by the EVHS football team. “I always worked as hard as I could to put our student-athletes and coaches in the best position to be successful, so I’m honored to be recognized for that.”
After Settle’s ceremony, EVHS announced its 2021 Homecoming King and Queen. Those honors went to Connor Weeks and Alma Hernandez, respectively.
“It was a great experience,” said Weeks, who plays both football and lacrosse for the Cyclones. “It’s a great feeling to know that you’re liked and respected by your peers.”
Weeks said he wasn’t necessarily expecting to be in the Homecoming court, but was happy to be nominated.
“None of this was planned, but I appreciate all the love from my fellow students for nominating me,” he said.
Weeks added that he would like to attend a four-year college after graduating from EVHS next spring, but he isn’t sure where he’ll go or what the focus of his studies will be just yet. He is certain of one thing, however.
“I just know I want to play a sport in college,” he said with a smile. “Whether it’s football or lacrosse, I want to continue my career as a student-athlete wherever I end up.”
In contrast to Weeks, Hernandez has an idea of where she might be at this time next year.
“I’m really considering joining the military,” she said. “It would be either the Army or the Marines, and I think either of those would provide me with a great structure and help me get into college.
“I’d really like to study either business or psychology,” she added.
Hernandez and the other candidates for Homecoming Queen were presented with flower boxes prior to the halftime ceremony. When it came time to find out who had been voted queen, they were asked to open the boxes, with the winner having a bouquet of red roses in hers.
“I was very anxious when we were waiting to open the boxes,” Hernandez said. “But when I opened my box and saw those roses, I got so excited. I never would have thought that I’d be the Homecoming Queen for Eastern View High School.”