T.C. Williams will host its first night football game on Friday night

T.C. Williams practices Thursday under the lights rented by the school for Friday night's game.
T.C. Williams practices Thursday under the lights rented by the school for Friday night's game. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
By James Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 29, 2010; 12:58 AM

Since it opened its doors in 1965, T.C. Williams has won 16 state titles in six sports, mirrored the personality and diversity of the city of Alexandria as its lone public high school and inspired the 2000 film "Remember the Titans," which chronicled the school's 1971 state football title run amid the turmoil of a federal desegregation order.

But unlike every other public high school in Northern Virginia, T.C. Williams has never hosted a Friday night football game on its home field.

Until now.

On Friday night, T.C. - as the school is affectionately known - will play under the lights on its campus just off King Street.

The lights will be rented - they were trucked in from Iowa this week - and dismantled once the game is over. Whether the school ever gets permanent lights is open to question: Many residents around the school have long opposed the idea and Alexandria's mayor, himself a T.C. graduate, says installing them would be too costly.

But for one glorious evening, T.C. and its fans - who will be joined by veterans of the 1971 state championship squad - will experience a Friday night football game when the Titans take on South County .

"I have never played a night game on my home turf," said Titans senior linebacker Tevin Isley, a three-year varsity player. "So this is a big opportunity."

To illuminate the field, T.C. Williams contracted the services of an Iowa-based lighting company, which drove five sets of 53-foot lighting fixtures disassembled on a flatbed truck. On Thursday, a two-man crew set up the lights.

To cover the $24,000 cost of the lights, the school and its students have been on a marketing blitz, posting signs across the city and selling tickets. Nearly 500 VIP tickets - which guarantee a tailgate party, a commemorative T-shirt, early-admission seating and a meet-and-greet with members of the 1971 team - are for sale for $30.

Another 2,400 tickets at the regular price of $5 are also for sale, with students getting the first crack at them last week. As of Thursday evening, 300 of the VIP tickets and more than 1,000 of the regular admission seats had been sold, Athletic Director Steve Colantuoni said.

"I'm banking on the fact this is such a stir and exciting that these people will come out," said Colantuoni, who graduated from T.C. Williams in 1974. "I've heard from people I haven't seen in over 30 years. They've talked about coming back just for a one-night thing."

When T.C. Williams was built 45 years ago along King Street, the city and residents in the neighboring communities agreed that no lights be erected at the football stadium. For most of its first four seasons, the school played its home football games at the lighted, 14,900-seat stadium at nearby George Washington High, one of the city's three high schools. Francis C. Hammond also played there.

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