22nd Annual Chicago Football Classic Provides Fun and Opportunity

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The chills of contribution are prized when one has prepared to perform. Whether an exam, a competition or a project, the fulfillment of an expectation is what provides satisfaction. Study sessions, practice and devotion to an art are revealed when an opponent is involved. The 22nd Annual Chicago Football Classic unleashed a battle of the bands performance featuring Hampton University and Howard University.

Both Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) schools began their performance with a pep rally at the Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. The drum lines, dance teams and supportive fans enticed around 5,000 people that surrounded the entire square. Chicago radio personality “DJ Nehpets” (WPWX Power 92.3) hosted the event.

“They get a chance to in-act their pride and praise for football,” said Nehpets.

The co-founders of the Classic, Larry Huggins and twins Everett and Tim Rand, originally began the event in 1997 to encourage the black youth in the city “to achieve their personal best in school and beyond.” The two university bands crowded a square at the entrance of the plaza and were each given seven minutes to perform after warming up. The next round involved such an electrifying drumline competition that the audience was giving an ovation before the percussionists could even finish.

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“These kids come to support football, watch the drumline (competition), and learn about college and leave with a scholarship and a chance for education,” Nehpets explained. Around noon, the two schools were police-escorted north to Gallagher Way, the backyard town square tourist attraction of Wrigley Field. The grassy area outside of left field with sprinklers, restaurant bars, an enormous video board and post-game musical entertainment brings the entire community to Wrigley for Cubs games. 

Photo by Thomas Butler-Guerrero

The pre-game kick-off party presented thrilling performances from both schools that again drew thousands of people to Gallagher Way. Even fans inside the ballpark were attracted to the music, observing from as high as the rooftops to witness the show. Friday night baseball with collegiate bands performing is an uncommon theme for baseball fans. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity as each band received an ovation from a sea of fanatics in Cubby pinstripes.

The 22nd Annual Classic game between Hampton and Howard was held at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, on Saturday.  The Bears Care foundation sponsored 1,000 students to attend the game. Chicago natives and newly acquired Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose and Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis, promised to sponsor 4,000 students from the Englewood area of Chicago. Former NBA players Isiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre paid for the cost of transportation for students.

The Hampton Pirates (2-1) defeated the Howard Bison (0-3) on Saturday by a final score of 41-20. Hampton Quarterback Deandre Francois led the Pirates as he threw for 4 touchdowns surpassing 200 yards. Two of his touchdowns were a 68 yard pass to sophomore Jadakis Bonds and a 70 yard score from freshman Darran Butts. The Bison led 3-0 at the end of the first but the Pirates of Hampton outscored Howard 34-10 over the next two quarters. A 44-yard touchdown run by Bonds late in the third quarter blew the game wide-open and virtually sealed the deal for the Pirates.

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