Every time Minneapolis Southwest football players or fans reminisced about the 2011 season, the first – and usually only – game they mentioned: playing under the lights at Pershing Field.
It was a historic evening, the first home game under the lights in the school's 71-year history. More than 3,000 fans were on-hand for the game, reveling in an atmosphere seldom seen at the park a few blocks from Southwest.
Jodi Wishart, the Southwest Alumni Foundation president, paid for six generator-powered lighting units that lit up the field and created an event that inspired players, parents and alumni alike.
It was the kind of event worth repeating. And so it shall be. Friday’s 7 p.m. game against Edison will be bathed in the light of two additional rental units, eight in all.
“All my friends are excited for it.” senior wide receiver Jimmy Roth said. “Even though it’s the second game under the lights I think there will be a similar buzz. I'm tellig anyone who didn't get the chance to play last year to take full advantage of the opportunity because it's something really big."
Roth felt the excitement last season just running onto the field though his team lost 24-12 to Washburn. A one-point loss to the Millers last week – the 27th consecutive Lakers’ loss in the series – will have Southwest players pumped to play hard under the lights against Edison.
Unlike last season, when the Southwest-Washburn game ultimately decided the Minneapolis City Conference championship, this game’s outcome is less in doubt. The Tommies are 1-3 but Lakers’ senior linebacker DeAnthony McKinley plans to address teammates before the game about keeping the focus on the field.
“It’s a lot of fun and the crowd is big and noisy but this is a business trip,” McKinley said. “We’re not taking it lightly.”
Added senior receiver/defensive back Camden Knuckles: “We still want to give the community something to cheer about so we’ll be working hard out there.”
Knuckles disappeared into the darkness catching a touchdown pass against Southwest last season. He said the additional two lighting units will make a difference.
“I think eight lights will be better,” Knuckles said.
Minneapolis South is also renting lights for a home game against Edison on Oct. 12.