The Northwest Classic is more than a football game. It’s an opportunity to be the Kings of Moncrief for a year.
Raines has held that crown for the last six seasons. The Vikings held on to beat Ribault 30-19 on Saturday afternoon in front of a sold out Earl Kitchings Stadium. The meeting was the 53rd time the two programs met.
By the second quarter more than 4,500 people had poured into The Graveyard. Scores of others were left enjoying the revelry along Raines Avenue.
Two who did not make it inside were Gary Tripp II and Lekeisia Tripp. They never made it inside the game, but enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy the food, festivities and conversation.
Gary is a 1993 Raines graduate. Lekeisia is a 1993 Ribault alumna. The two dated in high school, went their separate ways, and reunited a few years ago. They married this July.
“It’s about both sides of Moncrief, which you know, this area, you know, it’s in our blood, it’s in the heart of the Northside,” Gary says. “…A lot of us grew up around each other. We know each other. We’re from the same circles. We went to elementary schools together, junior high’s together and it’s just in the heart of the culture of our you know, just a black culture (thing) mostly. And we love on each other man, we just have a great time every year.”
Saturday’s game was the first without Raines legends Jimmie Johnson and James Day, both of whom died in February. Johnson coached the Vikings for eight seasons, producing a 64-21-2 record before becoming Raines’ principal and a member of the Duval County School Board. Day was the longtime track and field coach who taught and served as the school’s athletic director.
Aja’h Donald, Raines Miss Senior 2023 says Raines is more than a school. It’s a mindset.
“My mother is actually a Trojan. Before Raines was an option for schools, I was always at the games,” Donald said. “I didn’t really care for them then. But, being able to be a part of it now, I deeply appreciate everyone here. From the band, to our players, everyone is working hard to make this a great experience. I’m proud to say I go here.”
Ribault quarterback Timothy Cole threw for two touchdowns in the loss. After his second, where he evaded the Vikings pressure and fired a 42-yard touchdown pass, one Raines fan lamented aloud: “That boy in 9th grade.”
The implication was he shouldn’t be able to dissect a Vikings defense that allowed more than 17 points just once this year.
Ribault scored 19 in the first half. However, the Raines defense stiffened. The Vikings defense has conceded only eight second half points in the past four Northwest Classics.
Raines junior Nicholas Kilpatrick returned a punt for a touchdown and returned an interception for a 101 yards with 38 seconds remaining to seal the Vikings win.