Howard's new stadium lights are up. They've been tested. And they will be unveiled tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. for the first game of Howard's football season against Wilde Lake
"The new lights are about twice as bright as the old ones," said Howard football coach and athletic director, Vince Parnell. "There will be more light everywhere, including behind the stands. And that should help out with security."
Parnell said he expects a big crowd and a festive atmosphere for the opener, especially since only one other county team plays that day.
Wilde Lake beat Howard in double overtime last season, and in overtime the season before that. Howard beat the Wildecats in 1999.
"Some people will be coming to see the game, and some will be coming to see the lights," Parnell said.
A March storm blew down one of 10 wooden light poles constructed in 1962, and after dry rot was discovered in other poles, the county decided to replace them all with four state-of-the-art poles - two that sit adjacent to the press box and two that are adjacent to the stands on the far side of the field. The new lights cost $79,926.
Parnell hopes his team will be competitive after winning only one game last season, but the recent transfer of outstanding running back Derrick McPhearson to DeMatha obviously creates a gap in the Lions' plans.
The county has an unbalanced schedule this season because only Long Reach and River Hill are scheduled to play every county opponent.
It happened because the newest high school, Reservoir, was originally going to play a varsity football schedule. But after the schedule was made, it was decided to allow Reservoir to play a JV schedule for its first year.
As a result, two of the best teams in the county, Wilde Lake and Glenelg, will not play each other. Glenelg, which has won 15 straight league games, was a state 2A quarterfinalist last season.
Glenelg volleyball coach Jennifer Beall's initial reaction to the news that her team would open its season today against perennial power Centennial might surprise you.
"When I heard, I just kinda laughed because it figured as much," said Beall, whose second-ranked Gladiators were the Class 2A West Region champions a year ago. "You might as well start off strong to see where you stand against one of the better teams."
Glenelg, No. 5 Centennial and No. 4 River Hill, the reigning league champs, figure to wage a battle all season for the county's top spot. However, Beall and Eagles coach Mike Bossom feel today's outcome may be largely inconclusive because of what lies ahead for both teams.
The Gladiators and Eagles will meet again on Oct. 18 for the second of a possible four meetings. The two teams could also renew acquaintances in the county championship game and in the regional playoffs.
"That would be weird to play a team four times, but we're not looking at it like that," said Bossom, whose team will get a boost from the return of senior setter Molly Reitz, who missed nearly all of last season with a shoulder injury and was initially questionable for today's game after aggravating the injury. "I'd characterize this as a good test to see how well your team reacts against a good team."
Top soccer at AACC
Five of the metro area's top 10 ranked girls soccer teams - including the top three - will be at Anne Arundel Community College for the two-day Pioneer Shootout starting this afternoon.
The tournament kicks off with No. 1 St. Mary's taking on No. 7 South River at 3:30 p.m. Broadneck will try to knock off No. 2 River Hill at 5:30, followed by No. 3 McDonogh up against No. 8 Arundel at 7:30.
Tomorrow's action also will start at 3:30 p.m., with River Hill meeting Arundel.
Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.