Heritage Classic football rivalry pits Middleton vs. Blake

Frances Cheeks Jennings | Jesse Salters

TAMPA — The 14th annual Heritage Classic football game will be held Friday, Oct. 5 at Blake High School. The Blake High Athletic Booster Club will host the game and a week of activities celebrating the rich history of the two schools that were once the only two high schools in Tampa serving black students.

The relationship between George S. Middleton High School and Howard W. Blake High School (originally named Don Thompson) was established in 1945 during a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Families were often divided, as brothers and sisters made the choice to attend opposing schools.

The first rivalry lasted until 1971 when integration was instituted, and both schools were converted to junior high schools. However, due to the strong legacy and advocacy of their alumni bases, both were reopened as high schools, Blake in 1997 and Middleton in 2002.

Since then, the annual football rivalry has been renewed with some games played in Tampa Stadium and others at the respective schools. Go Yellow Jackets! Go Tigers!

This year’s game day title sponsor includes Dr. and Mrs. H. Earl Cotman of St Petersburg. Jacqueline Nickson Cotman is a 1964 graduate of Blake High and Miss Blake High.

Michelle Brooks Patty, a graduate of Blake, is the Heritage Classic black and gold sponsor and the Yellow Jackets sponsor is Frances Cheeks Jennings and family. Jennings, Blake Class of ’59, is the chair of the Heritage Classic.

“Not only is this a football contest on the field between the two schools, but we also are treated to a spectacular showdown performance between the Tigers Marching Band and the high stepping, often imitated, but never duplicated Yellow Jackets marching band,” said Jesse Salters, principal of Blake High School.

BK Jackson, an internationally known jazz artist and Blake High graduate, will perform with the band at halftime.

The Howard W. Athletic Booster Club encourages all to come out and support the Heritage Classic.

“We look forward to partnering with you to continue enriching the lives of our students, and we are honored to be a part of this legacy,” said Jennings.

2018 Heritage Classic Week

Sunday, Sept. 30 @ 9:00 a.m.Church Services at Exciting Central Baptist Church, 2923 Tampa Street, Tampa. Middleton and Blake, wear your school colors!

Monday, Oct. 1 @ 10-1 p.m.Alumni Visitation Day. Today’s Blake High School welcomes Don Thompson and Blake High School graduates to Heritage Classic Week!

Tuesday, Oct. 2 @ 6-2 a.m.Blake DAY at the Village Inn.  Support the Athletic Booster Club by eating at the Tampa Dale Mabry Village Inn ONLY, 215 N Dale Mabry Hwy Tampa, FL 33609.  A portion of your bill will be donated to the Athletic Booster Club.

Wednesday, Oct. 3SPIRIT DAY!  Wear your Blake t-shirt to school!

Thursday, Oct. 4 – Celebrate Blake and Middleton in your own special way!!

Friday, Oct. 5 – Pep Rally @ 2 p.m. — Middleton/Blake Heritage Classic Football Game: Pre-game 6:30 pm; Game Kick-off 7:00 PM at Blake High.  Blake’s half-time show will feature jazz artist BK Jackson.

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