It’s with much regret to the citizens of Westville, Illinois, that I write this post. After all, they’re going to have to change their sign. Because it’s wrong.
Westville claims the nation’s first lighted high school football game. It came in 1928, on Sept. 21 of that year, in a game against Milford, according to the IHSA (scroll down about 1/3 of the way down the page). Westville even won the game, 26-6.
There’s just one little problem with that claim: It’s inaccurate. Midwest, Wyoming, hosted the first night football game in November 1925.
A full four years before the first professional night game, and three years before Westville, the Oilers hosted Casper High School (now Natrona) on Nov. 19, 1925. Casper won the game 20-0; Midwest won style and novelty points. About 400 people turned out to watch the game, played under floodlights installed by the Midwest Refining Co. at the location of Midwest’s current community softball field. The game was played in cold temperatures (after all, it WAS nighttime in late November) and with a football that had been painted white.
Now, nearly every high school in the state has lights. Only about a dozen schools in Wyoming are without them.
And, of course, the tradition of Friday night lights did not remain solely a Wyoming tradition. It is now Americana — a tradition for tens of thousands of communities across the country. (Never mind that Nov. 19, 1925, was a Thursday…)
Even though Mansfield University has everyone beat, Wyoming CAN claim the first high school football game under the lights.