Tatum Eagles to honor Mayflower Panthers at football game

“It’s a way to bridge the past to where we are now.”
The team will trade in their usual green and white jerseys for the Mayflower Panthers’ blue and gold.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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TATUM, Texas (KLTV) - This year marks the 55th anniversary of Mayflower High School integrating with Tatum ISD to become one school. At the Sept. 9 football game against the Pittsburg Pirates, the Tatum Eagles will honor the previous all-black school in a special way for the very first time.

The team will trade in their usual green and white jerseys for the Mayflower Panthers’ blue and gold. With many Tatum fans being Mayflower alumni, Assistant Superintendent Drenon Fite Jr. says this will give them an opportunity to reflect on the past and see their school colors back out on the field.

“In the past, there’re not many pictures and trophies left because there was some fires, and it burned a lot of the artifacts. So, this gives an opportunity and a visual for those to kind of see it one more time,” Fite Jr. said.

Fite Jr.’s dad was a Mayflower alum and graduated in 1957. Fite Jr. also went to Tatum High School and played for the football team. Now, he will get to see his son, Cullen Fite, play while wearing the special jersey.

Cullen said, “I feel a lot of pride. I mean we have a lot of background and legacy. It’s my last name, so it feels good to keep it moving, to keep it up.”

During the Mayflower era, Algie Harkless led the Mayflower Panthers to 47 wins over a stint of seven years. This led to the team being a state finalist in 1966. At the Sept. 9 game, Teams 66 and 67 will be honored on the field.

“We’re still the Tatum Eagles, but at the same time, we can reflect back and give some attribution to the 66 team, and not just the 66 team but those who attended Mayflower who are a part of our Tatum community and support Tatum in any way possible,” said Fite Jr.

He says Mayflower alumni will buy the jerseys and give them to the original players and their families after the tribute game.