The Bell Game

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The Bell Game is an annual football contest between two high schools in Pueblo, Colorado, USA: Central High School and Centennial High School. They have been playing each other since 1892[1] in what is believed to be the oldest ongoing American football rivalry west of the Mississippi River[2] and the largest sports event of its kind in Colorado.[3] The rivalry is sometimes referred to as the "One Hundred Year War".[4] Since 1950, the teams have played for ownership of a railroad bell mounted upon a wheeled cart, along with the right to paint the cart the winning school's colors and keep the bell in the winning school for sporting events and school activities.[5] In years where the bell is transferred from one school to the other, the senior cheerleaders from the losing school wheel the bell to midfield at the conclusion of the game where it is handed over to the senior cheerleaders and players from the victorious school. The bell's cart is repainted in the winning school's colors, with one small area retaining the color from the other school to symbolize the rivalry.[6]

Year Winner Score Notes
1892 Central 4-0
1893 Centennial 4-0
1897 Centennial 16-0
1898 Central 74-0 Central would go on to win an unofficial Colorado state championship.
1900 Centennial 30-0
1900 Centennial 11-0
1903 Centennial 10-0
1904 Centennial 70-0 Centennial would go on to win the first official Colorado state championship.
1905 Centennial 11-0
1906 Central 4-0
1907 Tie Game 6-6
1921 Central 13-0
1922 Central 9-0
1923 Centennial 5-0
1924 Central 22-13
1925 Central 43-0 Future NFL Hall of Fame member Earl "Dutch" Clark played his senior year at Central.
1926 Central 6-3
1927 Central 13-6
1928 Central 21-0 Central would go on to win Colorado state championship.
1929 Centennial 12-0 Future Hewlett-Packard founder David Packard played his senior year at Centennial.
1930 Central 20-0
1931 Central 24-6 Central would end up Colorado state runner-up.
1932 Tie Game 0-0
1932 Centennial 27-0
1933 Centennial 26-13
1933 Centennial 12-6
1934 Centennial 26-2
1934 Centennial 7-6
1935 Central 21-6
1935 Central 13-0
1936 Tie Game 0-0
1936 Tie Game 0-0
1937 Tie Game 7-7
1938 Central 13-7 Central would go on to win Colorado class A state championship.
1939 Centennial 20-13 Centennial would end up Colorado class A runner-up.
1940 Centennial 7-6
1941 Centennial 1-0 Central forfeited the game for using ineligible players.
1942 Tie Game 0-0
1942 Central 12-7
1943 Centennial 13-0
1943 Central 7-0
1944 Central 40-0 Central would go on to win Colorado class A state championship.
1945 Centennial 19-0 Centennial would end up Colorado class A runner-up.
1946 Centennial 26-21 Centennial would go on to win Colorado class AA state championship.
1947 Central 33-13 Central would go on to win Colorado class AA state championship.
1948 Central 7-6
1948 Centennial 13-0
1949 Central 19-9
1950 Central 40-27
1950 Central 25-15 First game where winner took possession of the victory bell.
1951 Central 13-7
1952 Centennial 14-0
1953 Central 32-14
1954 Central 24-0
1955 Central 19-14
1956 Tie Game 0-0
1957 Central 19-0
1958 Central 26-12 Central would end up Colorado class AAA runner-up.
1959 Central 13-6
1960 Central 6-0
1961 Central 28-14 Central would go on to win Colorado class AAA state championship.
1962 Central 13-0 Central wins six straight Bell Games; to date the longest streak of the rivalry.
1963 Centennial 14-7 Centennial would end up Colorado class AAA state runner-up.
1964 Central 7-0
1965 Central 46-0 Central would go on to win Colorado class AAA state championship.
1966 Tie Game 7-7
1967 Central 10-0
1968 Centennial 13-6
1969 Central 44-13
1970 Central 21-20 Central would end up Colorado class AAA runner-up.
1971 Central 6-0
1972 Tie Game 7-7
1973 Central 17-14
1974 Centennial 13-12
1975 Centennial 19-0
1976 Central 14-7
1977 Centennial 6-0
1978 Centennial 13-7
1979 Central 16-3
1980 Centennial 19-7
1981 Central 35-8
1982 Central 35-0
1983 Central 20-0
1984 Centennial 13-6
1985 Central 14-6
1986 Centennial 14-0
1987 Centennial 28-10 Centennial would go on to win Colorado class AAA state championship.
1988 Central 15-12
1989 Centennial 29-17
1990 Central 20-18
1991 Centennial 40-15
1992 Centennial 30-6 Centennial would go on to win Colorado class AAAAA state championship.
1993 Centennial 34-15
1994 Centennial 26-0
1995 Central 21-14
1996 Centennial 28-25
1997 Centennial 7-6
1998 Central 27-9
1999 Centennial 69-53 50th Bell Game played.
2000 Central 28-13 100th rivalry game played.
2001 Centennial 20-0
2002 Centennial 42-14
2003 Central 19-13
2004 Centennial 58-14
2005 Centennial 35-13
2006 Centennial 32-14
2007 Central 14-6
2008 Central 22-21 (OT) First overtime game in series history.
2009 Central 29-20
2010 Centennial 32-20
2011 Centennial 51-22
2012 Centennial 41-39
2013 Centennial 41-29
2014 Centennial 28-26
2015 Central 27-24
2016 Centennial 31-7
2017 Centennial 14-8 (OT)
2018 Centennial 24-12

As of the 2018 game, in the all-time series Central has 56 wins, Centennial has 53 wins, and the teams have tied 9 times.

In 1895 and 1896, Centennial and Central combined to form a single Pueblo high school team.[7]

Centennial did not field a team in the 1901 or 1902 seasons, nor from 1913 to 1919.

The series was temporarily suspended after the 1907 game ended in a brawl between the two teams and their respective fan bases.

In many years the two teams would play twice each season: a regular season game, and then a special Thanksgiving Day game. The Thanksgiving Day games ended after the 1950 season.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jeff Letofsky (29 September 1992). "100 years of Cats, Dogs". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  2. ^ Frei, Terry (16 October 2010). Playing Piano in a Brothel. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 67. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ Scott Stocker & Shane Fitzgerald (12 October 2000). "FOR 100TH TIME, PUEBLO'S BELL GAME TO RING IN". Rocky Mountain News. High Beam. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  4. ^ Lipsher, Steve (17 October 1993). "THE BELL GAME". Denver Post. p. 7C. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  5. ^ Socier, Dave (13 October 1995). "THE BELL GAME: The battle of the Bell". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  6. ^ Sweeny, Mike (1 October 2010). "It's Red Versus Blue: Central Hosts Centennial in the Annual Bell Game". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  7. ^ Mihalick, David (1970). Steel City Football Almanac. self published.