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Pueblo Central, Centennial not fazed by fewer fans for annual Bell Game

120th rivalry game Friday at Dutch Clark
Pueblo Central and Centennial shake hands at the conclusion of the 2019 Bell Game. Central re-took the bell with a 23-0 victory at Dutch Clark Stadium
Pueblo Central and Centennial shake hands at the conclusion of the 2019 Bell Game. Central re-took the bell with a 23-0 victory at Dutch Clark Stadium(KKTV)
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 8:22 PM MDT
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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - In what’s already an atypical year, the 2020 edition of the annual Bell Game between Pueblo Central and Pueblo Centennial will follow suit.

Only 175 fans per side will be allowed through the gates Friday at Dutch Clark Stadium for the 120th rivalry game between Wildcats and Bulldogs. Bleachers that normally fit 15,000 fans are instead decked out with signs to socially distance. Besides a select number of students and parents, the majority of fans will watch District 60′s livestream of the game.

Pueblo’s Bell Game dates back to 1892, and is believed to be the oldest high school football rivalry west of the Mississippi River. The intensity, fans, and atmosphere has traditionally grown with each iteration. But that will change for 2020. In addition to fewer fans, schools have axed the annual pep rallies at the school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A smaller crowd will be different, both teams admit. But the Wildcats and Bulldogs are taking it in stride.

“Usually on the field I really can’t hear [during the game],” Centennial senior Marcus Abeyta says. “This year without the fans it’ll definitely help. It’ll be especially different.”

Last year, Central blanked Centennial 23-0 to win back the bell for the first time since 2015. The Wildcat seniors insist they’re starting their own tradition, while the Bulldog seniors are seeking revenge.

“Winning the bell back junior year was really special,” Central’s Siaha Saenz says. “It felt really good getting it back. We’re going to defend it, do our hardest, play the game like we always do."

The Bell Game continues to be a coin toss historically, with Central leading the overall series, 57–53 with nine ties. Part of the appeal of the cross-town rivalry continues to be the connection between schools. Players on Central and Centennial both admit they have friends on the opposing bench, and winning your final Bell Game allows for some trash talk down the line.

“Later on in life, it would be nice to have that bragging rights,” Central senior Ryley Roth says. “It would definitely be nice to say that we won our senior year.”

Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. from Dutch Clark Stadium.

Copyright 2020 KKTV. All rights reserved.

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