It's easier sometimes to describe the football program at Montgomery College-Rockville in terms of what it doesn't have: stadium lights, scholarships, a screaming legion of fans.
"There's nobody I know of that's a perennial, loyal fan," said Harry Stenger of Rockville, who is president of the school's football booster club, which has about 25 members and on its best days, a bank account of $2,000.
"The majority of the people in Montgomery County and even the students don't realize there's a football team here," he said, "much less one that is a leader in the country year in and year out."
Or, for that matter, a team -- a mighty, unsung team with a 10-0 record -- that is competing tomorrow for the National Junior College championship.
"Oh really?" said student Brad Davis of Gaithersburg, who was hurrying to a business class yesterday morning. "Well, yeah, I think that's great . . . . Yeah, I'm really proud of them . . . . Who are they playing?"
No, one can't say that football fever has overtaken this commuter campus of almost 14,000 students. There was a pep rally Thursday in the cafeteria, attended by several hundred people and featuring the college band, which can't afford to travel to any out-of-town games. And, the marquee at the entrance to the school on Hungerford Drive now carries a message of support.
But for many on campus, the contest tomorrow in Oklahoma between the Fightin' Knights and the Red Ravens of No. 1-ranked Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College is not a source of great anticipation.
"I don't keep up with that," said Gus Verdun, 22, of Bethesda, a computer science student. "There's no promotion on campus or anything. I don't even know if the school has a cheerleading squad."
There is a cheerleading squad. But "in many cases," Stenger said, "they have to pay their own expenses."
Such is the nature of athletic programs at Montgomery College-Rockville and, in general, many other two-year commuter schools. It's hard to stir up spirit, college officials say, when the programs are low-key and underfunded, and a majority of the students are older, attending classes part-time and juggling families and jobs. At the Rockville campus, the median age is 23, and two-thirds of the students are enrolled part-time.
"Being a commuter school, we get a very limited amount of student reaction," said Tom Bichy, the athletic director. "Basically, the games are played for the players on the team and their families."
There has been a football program at Montgomery College since 1947, and a consistent winning record during Coach Phil Martin's nine-year tenure. But the school does not offer athletic scholarships and doesn't have a sports information director or a bountiful alumni fund, unlike opponent Coffeyville, which has all three.
Local fans won't even have the opportunity to see or hear the game until the outcome is history. It's to be broadcast Monday and Thursday on Montgomery College Cable Channel 51, but no one interviewed on campus yesterday had heard of any planned get-togethers to watch the game.
The game will also have a delayed radio broadcast at 6 p.m. tomorrow on WINX (1600 AM).
Marta Cuervo, 27, said she had only just heard about the team -- about its existence, that is, not the championship game.
"When the teacher told us about it, everybody went, 'Really?' " Cuervo said.
But Bryan Bupp, 18, knew exactly what the Fightin' Knights are up against in their contest tomorrow. Of course, Bupp has an inside track. He is friends with someone who played on the team last year. He considered going out for the team himself. And, "my cousin's husband is the linebacker coach."
"It's a real change from Poolesville High School," said Bupp, who just graduated from there in the spring.
"When we went off to the championships, everybody sent us off with a big dinner," he said. "Everybody went to the games. I mean, this is the national championship. And nobody seems to know."