MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair High School (MHS) is gearing up to play its first home night football game on Thursday 7 p.m. at Woodman Field.
This groundbreaking night game is the "result of an adjustment that needed to be made to the schedule in observance of the High Holy Days," said Montclair head coach John Fiore, who said that the game lighting is being made possible by donations from MHS alumni.
Besides being the first night game in the school's history, it is also for a cause. The "Sun-Smart Bowl" theme is designed to bring about greater awareness of skin cancer.
Two families have teamed up to save lives and bring awareness through the Live SunSmart and Mike Geltrude Foundations. They have come together to raise awareness for skin cancer prevention and early detection.
Mike Geltrude and Ray Festa, were both the quarterbacks for their respective teams. Mike Geltrude, of the Nutley High School Class of 1959, and Ray Festa, of the Montclair High School Class of 1957, were on opposite sides of the ball as opposing quarterbacks on Oct. 13, 1956. After they each died of melanoma, their families started the foundations in their memory.
The universal message for this game is that before any player laces up their cleats and puts on their protective padding, they should apply a generous layer of sunscreen to their face, arms, legs and any other areas of exposed skin. We need to make this behavior a normal part of every athlete, coach and fan’s pre-game routine.
The Foundations will be on-site to distribute informational literature to the fans attending the game.
Fans are being asked to wear something orange to raise awareness for skin cancer. In addition, both teams and their cheerleaders will be decorated in orange to signify solidarity and support of the message.
There will be a ceremonial coin toss at 6:45PM and at the conclusion of the game, we will present the SunSmart trophy, which has been in Montclair’s possession since last year, to this year’s winner.
Mountie-fans have taken to social media to express their excitement about this game against Nutley. MHS Alum, Aminah Toler, wrote, "Long overdue for a night game...#can't wait." While Sherise Majette, who is also a MHS alum, wrote, "Thursday Night football!! YES!!!.. Nothing like a hotdog, a cup of hot chocolate and some MOUNTIE football!!!"
Fiore expressed excitement over the game's SunSmart focus and also wanted parents to be aware that academics is a priority for his student-athletes. He added that the night game during the week is a rare event.
Fiore said, "We are concerned about our students academics and understand that it comes first, but made a schedule adjustment for this one game to observe the Jewish holiday that takes place on Friday and Saturday this week. Most schools across the state of New Jersey also had to make the adjustment to their football schedule, as well." Fiore also expressed that study hall for student-athletes is provided on a consistent basis throughout the year to ensure that athletes remain academically-focused.
Although attendees are being asked to show solidarity by wearing something orange, WhiteOut shirts can be worn underneath and will gain attendees free entry to the game. Shirts will be on sale throughout the football season at participating stores and also at the gate.