A history lesson for Pueblo’s Bell Game


By Alexis Smith

The Centennial Bulldogs and Central Wildcats will meet for the 118th time Friday Oct. 19 at Dutch Clark Stadium for the annual Bell Game, a Pueblo tradition.

Often known as the oldest high school rivalry west of the Mississippi, the Bell Game rivalry is one of the oldest rivalries in the history of high school football in the United States.

The long-standing Pueblo tradition that began in 1892 has an interesting history, beginning with a riot that broke out just 15 years after the rivalry was established. After the events of the 1907, the game between the two schools were then suspended for 14 years and resumed in 1921.

It was not until 1950 that the game earned its official name. A local fan, Lewis Rhoades, donated a bell from an old C&W Railway Engine to be used as a trophy; the winning team from that game forward, would take the bell, painting the cart that holds it with school colors and display it at their school for the year leading up to the next game.

The bell has a strict protocol when it is exchanged since this rivalry is as heated as it is historic.

The winning team is granted the right to take the bell back to their school for display and paint it their school colors. But, there is a two-inch strip in the middle, of which the winning team must paint the opponent’s school color, as a sign of respect.

The second protocol put in place is, if the defending winner loses, the captain of the cheer team must carry the bell to midfield and hand it personally to their opposing captain.

This season, Central is 4-3, while Centennial is 3-4 overall.

The anticipated game is expected to draw much attention from the Pueblo community to ring in the chilling autumn weather.