The annual Soul Bowl to most may be seen as a way to enjoy the early morning of Thanksgiving before the big meal, but for many in Newark’s South Ward, it's more than just a football game. The Soul Bowl is a can’t miss reunion for neighbors and families made up of generations of alumni from Weequahic and Shabazz (South Side) high schools. The excitement of this event brings out the best tailgating, best dressed, and pride-talking alumni. It’s also a day filled with fellowship and love. Everywhere you look, you’ll see former players, band members and cheerleaders proudly wearing their old jerseys or varsity jackets. Among them as well are the current students attending those schools who are present to cheer on their friends.
The game is the culminating activity because what makes the Soul Bowl special are the events leading up to it such as the joint community service projects, alumni membership drives, and the bands and cheer teams engaging in friendly “battles.” Prior to game day, tradition has held that both teams come together to perform community service and later attend the annual Unity Dinner with all the players, coaches and school administrators from Weequahic HS and Malcolm X Shabazz HS in attendance. This year’s Unity Dinner and Soul Bowl game was held at Malcolm X Shabazz HS.
Weequahic HS has defeated Malcolm X Shabazz nine times since the return of the Soul Bowl in 2009. Although the Bulldogs have won three of the last six Soul Bowls and hold an overall series edge of 34-23-6 against the Indians, this year’s Soul Bowl trophy went back home with the Weequahic Indians.