From players to spectators, the Bell Game rings deep for thousands in Pueblo.
“Ever since I was a little baby, I’ve been to every Bell Game,” Centennial senior Buddie Niccoli said. “It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do, and I’m very happy and I’m glad to be a Bulldog.”
“It just means a great tradition, in all honesty,” Cayman Garduno, a senior at Centennial, said. “All my family came here, just so many people have come here that I’ve known and just have been great role models to me, and to finally be a part of Centennial’s tradition will be a great thing and always will be.”
Pueblo Central and Pueblo Centennial meet for the 118th time in this storied rivalry Friday night, giving Wildcat and Bulldog seniors one more chance to ring the bell.
“That would mean everything to me, honestly,” Central senior Nico Martin said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted, to win the bell in high school. My freshman year, we won it, but I didn’t play. It’d be really special if I was playing and we won it.”
“I lost it my freshman year,” Garduno said. “I got it back my sophomore year, kept it my junior year, I’m hoping to keep it my senior year. Just to be able to hoist it up and get out there, it’s a great thing.”
This year also marks one last chance to play in front of a packed Dutch Clark Stadium of 15,000 fans.
“There’s a feeling that’s in your stomach,” Niccoli said. “Everything’s twisted and you go and you look at both sides and it’s crazy. It’s wicked.”
This year brings even higher stakes after CHSAA approved conference realignments ahead of the season. Both Central and Centennial play in the 3A South Central League, and both teams remain in the playoff hunt.
“It’ll be big if we make the playoffs,” Martin said. “I haven’t made it once through all four years of high school, so that’d be pretty special.”
Centennial has won seven of the last 10 matchups.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. from Dutch Clark Stadium.