A Brief History of the Bell
A Pueblo Tradition
October 15, 2018
Centennial High School was established in 1873, originally being a 16×20 foot structure located on 421 North Santa Fe Avenue. Then 6 years later a much larger, adobe building went up at eleventh and court streets, and became known as High School of District One, or Pueblo High School. When Colorado was finally admitted to the Union, one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the school gradually became to be known as “The Centennial” since Colorado is “The Centennial State”. The adobe building begame expanding towards the late 1880s, until eventually the larger highschool came to place in 1921.
Of course, most people know what the annual football game is where Centennial plays Central High School for The Bell. This is known as The Bell Game, Pueblo prep sports’ oldest and most heated rivalry. This game began in 1892, and is what we can describe as the oldest American football rivalry West of the Mississippi, and the largest sporting event of its kind in Colorado. The rivalry has also been referred to as the “One Hundred Year War”. Centennial and Central didn’t start fighting for the bell until the mid 1950s, where the tradition of painting the bell the designated school’s colors began. What some may not know is there is a very strict protocol for the painting of the bell. One being that out of respect, a two-inch strip on the underside of the bell, must be painted the rival schools colors. Second, if the defending winner loses, the captain of the cheer squad, and only her, is to carry the bell to midfield and hand it personally to her fellow captain. Obviously, Centennial takes this prized possession very seriously.
The schools first played in 1892, and the teams have met every year since except for the period between 1907-1921, when Centennial temporarily dropped football. This 14 year grace period was set into place by city leaders, after player Jack Hopkins was punched in the face following the 1907 game, which ignited the heat of the rivalry. The Bell Game tradition began in 1950 when local businessman Lewis Rhoades donated a bell retrieved from an old Colorado and Wyoming Railway locomotive that used to carry coal to the Colorado Fuel & Iron Plant in Pueblo. The bell was to be given to the winner of the Centennial-Central football game.
One of the biggest blowouts of the bell game occured in 1904, when Centennial beat Central 70-0. One of the closest games was in 1970 when Central won 21-20 on a late and contested two-point conversion. One of the most tense games had to have been in 1936, where the Bell Game took place times, yet both times the score was 0-0. In more recent times, our scores have been close and very far off. In 2014, Centennial won the bell, with a score of 28-26. The next year, 2015, Central took the Bell and barely won 27-24. In 2016, Centennial demolished Central, winning 31-7. Last year, Centennial won again 14-8…barely. Coming onto the 118th year, Centennial is determined to keep the bell for the third year in the row, giving the Bulldogs another year of bragging rights.