It’s Fall in Pueblo! That means Chile Fest, cooler nights and High School Football! Most specifically? The Pigskin Classic, Cannon Game and of course the Bell Game! I don’t think a lot of people realize how truly unique, and awesome, it is to have these three rivalries here in town!
The Bell Game is touted as the “Oldest High School football rivalry, west of the Mississippi” – which is a pretty huge deal! (It’s also the 13th oldest High School Football rivalry in the US!) This rivalry started in 1892 and the first battle was won by Central, 4-0! The original rivalry game did NOT count toward the normal high school football league standings and was played on Thanksgiving Day, often at Mineral Palace Park.
2014 will be the 114th playing of this rivalry – which was suspended from 1907 – 1921, with thanks to a riot that broke out at the 1907 game. In 1950, the Rivalry was officially named the Bell Game when Lewis Rhoades (a local fan) donated a bell from an old C&W Railway Engine at CF&I to be used as a trophy – it was officially renamed to the Bell Game that year, with the winning team taking the bell, painting it with school colors and displaying it at their school until the next game. That year Central claimed the Bell with a 40-27 victory!
With some searching, The Pueblo Chieftain has a great article (written in 1992 by Jeff Letofsky) about this rivalry, including the following statement on the 1907 riot which put the rivalry on hold!
“There was not the least bit of an excuse for the Central player to use the sort of tactics that he did yesterday. . . When Grant fairly ran behind the goal line, Stewart made a very hard tackle, which twisted Grant into an almost incredible shape. Little Jack Hopkins, thinking that there was dirty work, ran to Grant’s assistance, pulling Stewart off of Grant. At this point Stewart lost the spirit of the game and deliberately hit Hopkins in the face which almost felled the plucky quarterback. Then Wilcoxin, the giant tackle of the Centennial team, knocked Stewart down with a vicious blow to the jaw. Then the real fight started, and if the platoon of police had not interfered some serious injuries might have resulted.”
The modern day game is held at Dutch Clark Stadium and was attended by 13,500 people in 2013!
So the real question is, Blue or Red?