For Larry Brooks, the Middleton-Blake game Oct. 5 proved to be a special Friday night.
The 1971 Middleton High School alumnus sat with his wife, daughter and two granddaughters with a proud smile on his face and a Middleton baseball cap on his head. It wasn't just the first signs of fall, a temperature change or relaxing after a week of work that excited Brooks.
It was about history. And family. And tradition.
"Just to see the tradition carry on through the years means so much to me," Brooks said of the Blake vs. Middleton game. "It's just like it was when I was 12 years old. It's great to come back to see how the team has grown and to see the band."
Brooks was a part of the last graduating class at the original Middleton High School. The original Blake and Middleton high schools, Tampa's two historic African-American schools, closed in 1971 due to desegregation.
The rivalry came to a halt.
Fast-forward. Blake reopened in 1997 with a performing arts magnet school. Middleton reopened in 2002 with an engineering and science magnet program. Both schools emerged with new campuses and the football rivalry that had once died was reborn, replete with high-stepping marching bands and rejuvenated alumni.
"It doesn't matter what happening during the season," Brooks said. "When these two schools meet, it's a whole new ball game."