Shooting high school football is challenging for several reasons including managing the transition from daylight to dark. If you are shooting for a school yearbook, school paper, or just for fun; I advise shooting the games in the beginning of the season and to be sure to get your shots in the first quarter or two. Daylight is fleeting in September and the sun makes it possible to get some "Golden Hour" light with its wonderful skin tones and color rendition. How much sunlight is available and for how long depends on your location within the time zone. The sun sets in the west so locations in the western part of the time zone will have daylight later in the day.
Consider two cities in the central time zone; Pensacola, Florida (east) and Garden City, Kansas (west) and look at the difference in sunset times and how fast the days are getting shorter at each location.
Sunsets for each city September 1 September 30
Pensacola 7:12 pm 6:36 pm
Garden City 8:14 pm 7:29 pm
As you might expect, there is about an hour's difference in the sunsets across the time zone. That's huge in determining your technique and the value of shooting early in the game. Exploit every minute of sunlight.
Professional photojournalists and avid enthusiasts will have the equipment to deal with dark conditions but even then, images captured in daylight will be far more compelling than the same capture at night--and a lot easier to get. If you have a choice, shoot early. Early in the game and early in the season give the best results.
1/640 sec, f/3.5, 155mm, ISO 1600, Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II
September 21, 2012; 7:16pm ; Wichita, Kansas
1/300 sec, f/3.5, 300mm, ISO 1250, Canon 1D Mark III, Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS, flash ETTL +1/3
Philip S. Zivnuska