It was an unseasonably cool August evening at Eastern View High School, with the thermometer just a tick shy of 75 degrees.
On the field at Cyclone Stadium, however, it was hot. Very, very hot.
It was the sort of heat that a program coming off its first regional championship in school history might expect to feel; the kindred spirit of an intensity that state championship teams carry with them both on and off the field.
Cyclones head coach Greg Hatfield stood on the edge of the inferno, allowing his coaching staff to take care of its myriad responsibilities, but never letting anyone in attendance forget he was there.
“Coaches, I need a defense out here,” Hatfield exclaimed as players returned from a water break. “Defense, on the ball now!”
Hatfield, always a picture of intensity and competitiveness both at practice and on the sidelines on Friday nights, is the only head football coach Eastern View has ever known. He accepted the position in June 2008, just a few months before the school opened its doors for the first time.
Now, after more than 11 seasons and 99 wins, he’s built the Cyclones into one of the best programs in the state in Class 4.
Eastern View (4-0) can claim win No. 100 by defeating visiting Caroline (0-3) at 7 p.m. tonight.
“We just try to focus on doing what’s right, both on and off the field,” Hatfield said. “When you’re building a program, there’s a lot of hard work and long hours. But if you work hard, stay focused and do things the right way, then I believe you’ll get where you want to go.”
There haven’t been many years where Hatfield and Co. weren’t formidable. They’ve had just one losing seasons in school history, going 4-6 in 2012. Since that downtrodden campaign, they’ve gone 10-2, 10-2, 9-3, 12-1, 11-1, 13-1 and now 4-0, in that order.
To save you from doing the math, that’s a combined record of 69-10 over the last six seasons.
Eastern View is also in the midst of a 40-game regular season winning streak, having not lost in August, September or October since a 42-21 setback at Sherando on Sept. 18, 2015.
Hatfield said the tremendous success is all about the players he’s had the good fortune to be able to coach, as well as the great continuity on his staff.
“It all starts with the players,” he emphasized. “They have to buy in to what you’re doing, and it isn’t easy to play for us. We ask the kids to stay in great physical shape year round and never take their foot off the gas pedal when it comes to getting better.
“On top of all the great kids we’ve had come through here, I’ve been extremely fortunate not to have a lot of turnover on my coaching staff. We’ve had pretty much the same group of guys here for the last six years.”
Eastern View has produced six players who went on to play at the Division I college level in recent years: Brett Leake, (Navy), D’Ago Hunter (Towson), Kyle Smith (JMU), Coen King (Virginia), Cam Spangler (W&M) and Avery Sites (VMI). Countless others have gone on to play at both the Division II and III levels as well.
For its part, the current crop of Cyclones is well aware of the standard that’s been set by those who came before them, especially in the cases where playing for Eastern View is very much a family affair.
“This whole thing was built by the guys that came before us,” said senior Blake Leake, the younger brother of Brett Leake and soon-to-be seventh Cyclone to play at the D-I level after recently committing to Cornell. “They made Eastern View a football power, and it’s our job to keep it going.”
Senior Alex Spangler, the younger brother of Cam Spangler, echoed Leake’s sentiments when it came to the subject of keeping the legacy going.
“My brother played here and he and I are very close, so it’s very much a family affair for me,” Spangler remarked. “I feel like it’s my job to not only keep the legacy alive, but to build on it and help get Eastern View football to places it’s never been before.”
Senior Drew Shurina, whose older brothers Logan and Brett also played for Eastern View, said there is a certain pressure that comes with maintaining the program’s lofty standards, but added that it’s a welcome challenge.
“Of course there’s always going to be that pressure to keep the momentum rolling,” he stated. “That’s why you have to be committed to working extremely hard and be willing to listen to your coaches.”
Seniors Jason Southern and Ricky Robinson, both two-year starters on the Cyclones’ offensive line, said playing for the team isn’t something that should be taken lightly.
“When you put on the [Eastern View] uniform, it means your coaches and teammates trust you to represent our school to the best of your ability,” Southern remarked. “In that way, it’s really like a brotherhood.”
“We take a lot of pride not just in winning games, but in how we play the game,” Robinson added. “It’s about doing everything the right way—even the little things—win or lose, which is a reflection of how everyone on the team carries themselves.”
Hatfield, who spent time as an assistant on Lou Sorrentino’s staff at Culpeper before head coaching stints at Central-Woodstock and Fauquier, understands his players’ sense of community. That, perhaps, is what drives him the most in his quest for excellence at Eastern View. He’s lived in the county for over two decades with his wife, Susie. Their children have all attended, or are currently attending, Culpeper County Public Schools.
“When you’re ingrained in the community, it makes you more invested in the local teams and schools,” he said. “That’s where I’m at, my family is at and my players are at. It makes the highs and the lows all the more valuable. I consider myself very blessed to be a part of what we’ve been able to do here.”
Eastern View Statistical Leaders
Passing: Till Butler 23-33 (69.7%), 503 yds, 9 TDs
Rushing: Raq Lawson 50-382 (7.6 avg), 3 TDs
Receiving: Alex Spangler 7-255 (36.4), 4 TDs; Chance Graves 9-184 (20.4), 3 TDs
Interceptions: Josh Logan 2
Kicking: Garrett Hutchinson 25-27 XP, 1-2 FG (long 20)
Punting: Garrett Hutchinson 5-36.0