Montgomery County, hoping to rebuild interest in high school football and make some money in the bargain, will turn to playing under the lights beginning tonight. Whitman is at home against Rockville in a nonleague game at 7:30.
Whitman and Bethesda-Chevy Chase were the only two county schools given approval to play night football this season. Whitman plays host to Seneca Valley Oct. 2 and B-CC is at home against Magruder Oct. 15 and Wootton Oct. 22.
"I don't know why the county hasn't tried night football before now," said Whitman Athletic Director Bill Dargert. "The athletic directors out here have been trying to get it for years. Some people felt crowd control would be a problem, others thought community concern was high because many of the schools are located right in the middle of residential areas.
"This is an experiment, but we're convinced night football can work here. A couple of schools in the county played night games at Good Counsel and I think Gaithersburg played a game or two at a night field many, many years ago, but this is the first time a game will be played on a county school site.
"I know all the schools need the money," he said, "and it's evidenced all around the country that more money has been made from night football."
Prince George's County went to night football four years ago and has gained increased revenue. The Interhigh League has taken in much more money at night than it does at Friday afternoon games. All of the schools in Northern Virginia except T.C. Williams have lights and play Friday nights.
Dargert said his school bought eight light poles for approximately $4,000 and is renting the lights for $1,500. A crowd of between 4,000 to 5,000 would cover expenses.
"Since everyone else out here plays on Saturday afternoon, we're hoping to get students from other schools," Dargert said. "I know coaches will be here. I hope everyone eats a lot."
Both Whitman and Rockville are 2-0 this season.
In other key games tonight, Potomac (2-0) plays at fifth-ranked Friendly (2-0) in a Prince George's AA league game and eighth-ranked Madison (2-1) tries to regroup at 14th-ranked Herndon (3-0) in a Virginia AAA Great Falls District clash.
Madison, picked by many to win the Northern Region championship, was upset by Lee, 19-16, last week. Despite returning all-Met quarterback Tim Hecht and several other top players, Madison has not overpowered anyone yet. The Warhawks beat West Springfield, 22-14, and Oakton, 16-12, before losing to Lee.
Herndon, averaging 26 points per game, has enough offensive strengths to give Madison trouble. Chris Chinn is Herndon's top threat, having scored six touchdowns in three games.
Friendly, the most successful school in Prince George's County the last half dozen years, will not be up against the Potomac team of past years. The Braves are off to their best start in years, having beaten Ballou, 35-2, and Crossland, 13-0.