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Westfield's Royal touched by honor

A week ago Monday night, Westfield graduate and Denver Bronco receiver Eddie Royal returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns against San Diego on Monday Night Football. In western Fairfax County, however, his best return of the week was the one he made to Westfield on Friday night to be honored at halftime of the Chantilly game.

The school had been planning to retire his number at some point and hastily made plans for a ceremony after Royal told Coach Tom Verbanic that he would be at the game. The Broncos were on a bye last weekend.

There was no announcement made ahead of time. Even the public address announcer was vague about a don’t-miss halftime event.

The school retired Royal's No. 5 jersey and unveiled an end zone banner bearing Royal’s name. The 2004 graduate starred on the team’s unbeaten state championship team in 2003, when he was All-Met offensive player of the year. In his two years with the Bulldogs, he caught 93 passes for 1,825 yards and 22 touchdowns.

“It’s a great feeling to come back here,” Royal said on the sideline after the ceremony. “I have so many memories. It’s touching. It’s a great honor to be honored here. I just love coming back here, man.

“To be able to share this moment with the fans here and with my family, I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”

Royal, who addressed the Bulldogs in the locker room before their 17-14 win over Chantilly, played two years at Westfield after transferring in from Paul VI Catholic. From the beginning, it was a good fit.

“This felt right,” Royal said. “It felt like home. When I got here they welcomed me here and Coach Verbanic was the type of coach that I needed. Just the way that he wanted me to be outside of football. He taught me a lot about the way to carry yourself, having good character, being responsible, being accountable. All of those things that really mattered to growing up and being a good person, he taught me.”

“Our proudest thing is that Eddie acts the way he does,” Verbanic said. “He’s loved in Denver because he acts the right way all the time. It just excites me that maybe we have a little influence here, anyhow.”

By Preston Williams  |  October 27, 2009; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Westfield High School  
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