Rivalry History: Bears and St. Paul Academy Go Back Over 100 Years

Former Rivals Unite on the Football Field


Left: Submitted by Neva Fuller; Right: Liam Coley

Left: The Bears defeated SPA 33-20 in 1966. The Bears were led by former head coach and biology teacher Dom Mezzenega, defeating the Spartans for the fifth time in six years. Right: After merging football programs with SPA, athletes from both schools now take the field together, as shown here at the homecoming game in Oct. 2022, a 24-0 victory for the Wolfpack.

Steven Cao, Staff Writer

One of Blake’s biggest rivalries against Saint Paul Academy, or SPA, has a very interesting history and connection today. Both schools are very similar: both are private schools which were founded in 1900 and located in the Twin Cities area. Blake and SPA compete against each other in many sports. That’s because the two schools compete in the IMAC conference.              

Both schools had many fierce games throughout the years in many sports, such as soccer, swimming and football, with Blake winning the 100th Blake-SPA football game 49-8 in 2011. However, in 2015, Blake and SPA combined with Minnehaha Academy to create our football team today, the SMB Wolfpack. The final tally for wins/losses in the Blake-SPA series in all 88 games on record was 28 wins, 52 losses, and 8 ties, giving SPA the edge by a wide margin, in part due to their rivalry record nine year winning streak. 

This created an interesting dynamic between supporting each other at football, but also competing hard in other sports. Baseball player and Blake superfan Dom Cornforth ‘24 noted “For a lot of kids [the rivalry is] important to them and that’s a driving reason why they show up to those games. On the baseball team you can definitely see that the boys are hyped up because they want to win.” 

Grayson Okoronkwo ‘24 plays football on the Wolfpack with SPA players, but also competes against them during the basketball season. Okoronkwo noted during the Blake-SPA basketball game, “The crowd was hyping me up and I could feel the energy from the rivalry as soon as the game started.” Okoronkwo competed in basketball against fellow Wolfpack teammate Ethan Carter from SPA, Okoronkwo noted “It’s a fun and intense matchup, and even though we are friends outside of basketball, there is no friendship on the court.” 

Many SPA students and athletes share the same passion for this rivalry, SPA student Ben Macedo believes “both schools are very ambitious and both schools being private schools adds to it.” SPA tennis phenom Zahir Hassan says “When facing Blake, SPA always wants to win because of the rivalry, it’s always fun because Blake is always such a tough opponent.”

In 2022, Blake has had many fierce, entertaining, wins against SPA, such as a 1-0 Boys Soccer win, a recent 73-64 win for Boys basketball as well as wins in both Boys and Girls tennis. The boys won 6-1 and the girls also defeated the Spartans. In addition, the boys’ hockey team dominated SPA by a score of 6-1, and the volleyball team swept their series against SPA, winning both matches by a score of 3-0. 

Next month, The Spectrum will be covering the history of another rival, Breck. Stay tuned for a dive into this long-chronicled rivalry!