The scoreboard result was not what Herndon High faithful were hoping for at last Saturday afternoon's homecoming football game. But even on a day in which the Hornets lost to Loudoun Valley (Purcellville), 35-14, to fall to 1-7 on the season, there was still the grandeur and excitement that comes with the annual celebratory homecoming affair.
The weather cooperated with brilliant sunshine and comfortable temperatures on a day in which Herndon High was not only celebrating its homecoming, but also its 100th year anniversary as a school.
Those on hand to support the Hornets - current and former students, members of the local community and friends and family members of the players - were not about to allow the final outcome of the game, played on Herndon's beautiful turf field, to tilt their emotions from festive to frustrated. Well, perhaps there was a bit of the latter. But any sense of fandom discouragement was kept in check by the positive vibrations and remarkable school spirit that was on display.
"It was great - that's the Herndon High spirit," said Herndon junior running back Josh Schow, who, moments after the game, was clearly disappointed but grateful to the team's supporters for their steadfast backing. "We all played hard."
The home team bleachers, adorned up top with shiny, red, black and white balloons, were filled to capacity with Herndon faithful throughout the game. When the Hornets made a good play or had a call go their way, their fans cheered loudly and heartily regardless of the score. When officiating calls went against the locals, the Herndon fandom let the referees know their displeasure with boos. The Herndon student body section, which was located on the far right side of the bleachers, was particularly vocal in its pleasure or displeasure at the game's proceedings - but always in a classy, supportive way.
Former Herndon High classes on hand for homecoming included the Class of 1975, celebrating its 35th year anniversary during the weekend, as well as the 2000 class, enjoying its 10th year gathering.
"Welcome back, Hornets," exclaimed the game's public address announcer, to all of the past students on hand.
At halftime of the game, the homecoming festivities took place and the Herndon High marching band - the Pride of Herndon - was outstanding in its playing of the cinematic score to "Bands of Brothers."
One of the afternoon's memorable moments came before the game when Loudoun Valley head football coach Danny McGrath, a former Hornets' football player and a 1999 Herndon High graduate, was presented with a Herndon football jersey - No. 69 - at midfield. McGrath played high school football under former Herndon High coach Tommy Meier. One of Meier's top assistants at the time was current Hornets' head coach Joe Sheaffer. McGrath played collegiate football as an offensive lineman at Virginia Tech.
"It's really cool because my [last] homecoming at Herndon was about 10 years ago," said McGrath, after his team's win. "It's always fun coming home. All of my family still lives in Herndon. This facility here is beautiful and the Herndon team is getting better every week."
McGrath is in his third year as head coach of the Vikings, members of the Cedar Run District who are in the midst of an outstanding 6-2 season.
<b>HERNDON, EVEN</b> in the loss, had several game highlights on the afternoon. The offense was effective moving the football. Leading the team's ground game was sophomore running back Cameron Reynolds, a hard-running, 5-foot-11 inch, 210-pound bruiser who seemed to dish out more hits than he took. For the game, Reynolds gained 117 yards on 20 carries. He scored a second quarter touchdown on a 12-yard run off the right side in which he ran over a couple of Valley players in the secondary before romping into the end zone. The Herndon offensive line opened up a huge hole for Reynolds on the scoring play.
Herndon's second touchdown came during the latter stages of the third quarter on a six-yard scoring run by Schow, who broke free off the right side and went into the end zone standing. Earlier in the game, Schow had to be helped off the field following a hit to his left knee in the second quarter. But he returned in the second half and ultimately finished the game with 61 yards on 10 carries.
Other Herndon highlights included: a successful fake punt in the first quarter in which up-back Chris Glazier, on a fourth-and-five play, received the shotgun snap from center and ran for six yards; two fumble recoveries by senior lineman J.P. Theodorakes; and a leaping interception in the right corner of the end zone by Ky Parrott late in the first half.
Four Herndon turnovers, two within the red zone (20 yards and in), kept the game from being closer.
"It's frustrating," said Sheaffer, the Herndon coach. "Loudoun Valley is good but I think we beat ourselves.
The coach was appreciative of the support and encouragement his team received from the Herndon fans on homecoming Saturday.
"Our homecomings are always good," he said. "Our fans have been very good. I think our kids are really trying."
Herndon will play at Chantilly High this Friday night at 7:30.