Bell Rivalry

1 decade 3 months 5 days ago Monday, September 10 2007 Sep 10, 2007 Monday, September 10, 2007 4:11:28 AM CDT September 10, 2007 in Sports
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The teams have played annually since 1922. This year's game was the 70th meeting in what is called the bell game.

Two small towns, only nine miles apart and for one night football is everything.

"When you walk out for the first time, you can't believe there's that many people for a high school football game. We're class one, they're class two. Three hundred kids in our school and four hundred or five hundred in theirs. There will be between five and ten thousand people at the game. It's unbelievable," said Deacon Windsor, Marceline head coach.

At the game the stands are full and the band is playing. People are watching at the gates and camped out in the end zone. They are all there to watch two high school teams fighting for community pride.

"It's just the one time of the year that the county gets together with one purpose and it's bragging rights for 364 days," said Shane Cavanah, Brookfield head coach.

The tradition carries on through families, as parents take their kids to watch and learn from an early age the meaning of the bell.

"I remember going out in my backyard, just simulating running the touchdown and doing this and that and scoring it for the win and getting the bell," said Lance Gooch, Marceline senior captain.

"We bring 'em in all the way from kindergarten with their painted faces and blue and white jerseys. And I'm sure it's the same on the other side of the county and it's bred into them and they want to be a part of it. And they long for the day when they get to play in it," said coach Cavanah.

The bell is 70 years old. It was taken off a fire engine and has become a symbol for this game. But two years ago there was concern that the bell might have rung for the last time.

A change in the team's conferences was the problem, not allowing Brookfield to play the out of conference Marceline. But fans quickly acted and fought to keep the game alive.

"It's amazing who spoke up, how they spoke up, town meetings, mission meetings it was pretty overwhelming. I don't think they saw that one coming," said coach Windsor.

"I think that it was the first time probably you saw a unified effort for one purpose by the two communities," said coach Cavanah.

It was a group effort to keep the bell ringing. Brookfield kept the bell for the eighth straight year with a 19-9 victory Friday night.

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