There is more than a football game scheduled tonight at Towson University: A celebration is on tap.
Weather permitting, the largest crowd in the school's history is anticipated when the Tigers christen their newly renovated stadium by opening the season against rival Morgan State.
"We're hopeful of something between 8,000 and capacity [11,198]," said Towson athletic director Wayne Edwards. "We've got a really big night planned."
The Towson record is 8,056 for its game against Morgan four years ago. That mark is almost certain to be shattered for an occasion that includes dedication of the field to the late Donald "Doc" Minnegan and appearances by a number of Baltimore sports legends and Towson Hall of Fame members.
"A large number of sports personalities will be there, including John Unitas, Artie Donovan, Bruce Laird, Tom Matte, Chuck Thompson and our own John Schuerholz [a Towson graduate and the general manager of the Atlanta Braves]," Edwards said.
Actually, the $31.5 million project is still a work in progress. The AstroTurf field and installation of 5,100 permanent seats are completed, but the field house, which will contain dressing rooms for football, men's and women's lacrosse, track and field hockey, offices, classrooms, conference rooms and video and training facilities, will not be ready until January at the earliest.
An artificial surface was chosen because of the multiple uses. "We wanted the flexibility to have high school events on Friday night. If we're playing Saturday, that is almost impossible to do with a grass field," Edwards said.
The Tigers are coming off a 3-7 season but have dominated the Morgan series lately, winning 11 of the past 12 meetings with the only loss in 1999 when the game was played at Johns Hopkins.
Morgan enters off a 28-24 defeat at Gardner-Webb, during which it rolled up 466 yards of offense behind quarterback Bradshaw Littlejohn, but was undermined by penalties and three turnovers.
But Combs sees Morgan's earlier start as an advantage for the Bears. "It's always helpful to play a game against somebody who hasn't yet," he said. "You can find out quicker where you need work."
With Lejomnick Washington still nursing a sprained knee, Littlejohn will start again.
The Tigers are relatively injury free, with starting cornerback Davon Telp (ankle sprain) the only member player of the two-deep rotation expected to miss the game.