Pueblo’s Bell Game: The Zenith Of A High School Football Rivalry That’s Lasted 125 Years

Pueblo’s Central and Centennial High Schools have been rivals on the football field since 1892. It might be the oldest high school rivalry in the west and for the last 67 years the Centennial Bulldogs and the Central Wildcats have done gridiron battle to claim a special trophy known simply as “The Bell.”

It’s an old bell from a locomotive that long ago delivered coal to the giant CF&I steel mill. The bell gets painted in the winning school’s colors — red for Centennial or blue for Central. This year’s Bell Game is Friday evening, September 15. The Denver Post says the annual Bell Game at Pueblo’s 15,000-seat Dutch Clark Stadium “draws more fans than the big-school state championship games at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.”

Students from both schools were invited to curate a new exhibit called “The Bell Rings” that just opened at the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo.  Among other  things, the display includes the old leather helmet that belonged to legendary quarterback Earl Harry “Dutch” Clark. He played for the Central High School Wildcats in the 1920s and eventually went on to be an NFL Hall of Fame player for the Detroit Lions.  The students also collected oral histories with former players and coaches which can be heard here. The exhibit runs through Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.

Hear the student curators and the sounds of this year’s pep rally by listening to the story at cprnews.org

This newspaper clipping is from The Pueblo Chieftain, October 22, 1950 and the photo marks the moment when this historic football rivalry became formalized as The Bell Game. Local booster Lou Rhoades donated the beloved bell. He is pictured here with winning Wildcat players. 
Photo: El Pueblo History Museum

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