By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
Chicago, get ready for not one, but two epic battles between champions at Soldier Field on Saturday, September 30th during the Chicago Football Classic.
The clash is bound to excite thousands of fans who will flock to the iconic stadium to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of a classic game that has become a fall tradition in Chicago. There will be tailgate parties, college fairs and sounds and soulful moves of high school and college bands. There will also be college scholarships and some heavy recruiting of promising college bound students. Capping it all off is the showdown between Grambling State University and Clark Atlanta University.
While defending champion Clark Atlanta University seeks to keep its crown against national champion Grambling State university in the
20th Chicago Football Classic, another showdown will take place just before the big game. This one will feature a three time defending champion going up against a two- time champion from who’s returning to the High School Battle of the Bands competition to reclaim its throne.
After a three-year absence from the competition, King College Prep in Kenwood is seeking to reclaim its throne. The predominately Black school will among 11 high school bands competing for bragging rights in the Chicago Football Classic’s annual Battle of the High School bands outside Soldier Field.
All eyes will be on Rich Central High School, which is seeking to win its fourth consecutive crown. But with King College Prep back in the contest, Rich Central dominance may come to an end. It may be the battle of between a suburban high school and a struggling high school, who was able to compete with the help of anonymous donor.
A powerhouse, King College Prep has won the competition in 2011 and 2012. It secured two second place finishes in 2009 and 2013. In addition, the school also won a third place in 2014. After that year, the school could not afford the costs of competing in the competition. But event coordinator Lori James said an anonymous donor gave the school enough money to enter the competition this year. King College Prep has been polishing up their routines and rehearsing to knock Rich Central off their perch. Not only are they ready, but King College Prep is hungry for victory.
James, who has been coordinator for the Battle of the High School Bands since 2001, said money has always been a problem for bands in Chicago Public Schools. She said every year, bands from more affluent suburbs far outnumber bands from the city. She said out of 10 to 15 bands every year, about three or four of them are from Chicago.
James hopes the return of King College Prep will inspire others to help high school bands compete in band competitions.
“This is a good year because they are fighting to take their title back,” she said.
On the football field, Clark Atlanta seeks to defend its title after defeating Central State 20-13 in last year’s classic. It will face a stiff battle with Grambling State, which was crowned the national champions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
After months of hype and press conferences, the two will finally take the field in a game that’s expected to be a tough battle.
It’s not clear whether Grambling State Redshirt senior quarterback DeVante Kincade will play in Saturday’s game. Kincade suffered a lower leg injury in Grambling State’s SWAC-opening win at Mississippi Valley State, 38-6 on September 23.