Alden-Hebron wants to see if Friday night lights offer more illumination on its football team than the sunlight of Saturday afternoons.
The Giants are the only team in McHenry County to regularly play their home football games on Saturday afternoons, because their field has no lights. But on Friday, Oct. 25, for the regular-season finale against Ottawa Marquette, A-H is going to play night football.
A-H will rent portable lights for that game. Giants athletic director and football coach John Lalor talked about it with other Northeastern Athletic Conference coaches at one of their meetings. Another NAC school without lights, Westminster Christian, is renting portable lights for a night game this season.
“The kids are excited about it,” Lalor said. “We did a fundraiser to help pay for it. The parents seem pretty excited about it. I think everyone is fired up. Hopefully we can get them playing better.”
The Giants (3-2 overall, 3-2 NAC) play some Friday nights on the road in the NAC.
“Under the lights is definitely different than during the day,” junior guard-defensive end Alec O’Halloran said. “You get a little more pumped up. It’ll be diferent. Our routine will be different. It’s part of history [here], it’s never been done before.”
A-H used to play some Friday games, but those were early in the season and started at 4 p.m., giving the Giants and their opponents just enough time to finish before dusk. The regular-season finale will be more like a regular Friday night game.
“It’s going to be huge,” senior fullback-linebacker Nick Beck said. “It’s going to be an awesome game. I think it will be bigger than homecoming, a nice big turnout. I can’t wait for it to happen.”
A-H will rent the lights from Patten, a Caterpillar dealer in Rockford that also rents equipment. Lalor has eight banks of lights reserved (four for each side), but hopes six might be sufficient (three for each side). The cost will run $1,000 to $1,600 for the rental.
Lalor will haul the lights from Rockford on his trailer – he may have to make two trips – and set them up for a Thursday night practice the day before the game. That way, the players can get used to their “new” field. Lalor said Marquette coach Tom Jobst was even excited about being the opponent for the Giants’ first night game.
“He said, ‘After all these years, you ought to have a Friday night lights game,” Lalor said.
It may not be the Giants’ last night game. A-H is considering installing permanent lights for its field. Lalor said A-H has the light poles and figures some of the labor can be donated. That leaves buying lights and having Commonwealth Edison hook things up. Lalor hopes that can be done for about $45,000.
“We have people who can make the infrastructure work, with the labor and the right people involved,” Lalor said. “I’m kind of hoping to hurry the issue up. It’s one thing I would like to leave here before I go away as coach, putting lights on the field.”