"The Battle for the Bell" is what they call it and the rivals will meet at 7 p.m. today (Friday) at Apple Valley's Newton T. Bass Stadium to determine local bragging rights. (Pictured) Apple Valley RB Anthony Ambers
The High Desert of Southern
California today bares only a faint resemblance to the same area 40 year
Back in the mid-1960s, the area
was a windswept collection of small towns, brutally hot in the summer and
cold-to-the-bone just a few months later when prep football was in full swing.
Barstow used to be the only high schools
for miles around. Every year they would play for the axe, a rivalry that still
School in 1969. The new school in a city
adjoining Victorville opened, and a rivalry was born.
Battle for the
Bell" is what they call it and the
rivals will meet at today (Friday) at
Valley's Newton T. Bass Stadium to
determine local bragging rights.
"No matter what sport you're
playing throughout the year, if you lose the Bell Game, you're going to hear
‘Ding-dong, ding-dong' from the other side," Apple
Valley coach Frank Pulice said. "If we
lose this game and our kids go to the Victorville mall, they'll hear it."
Fortunately for Pulice, his team
is favored. The Sun Devils (2-0) have one of their better teams in several
years. VictorValley (0-3) is struggling.
But it was the same in 2000 when a
winless VictorValley team met a 3-1
Valley team. The Jackrabbits, led by the
quarterback play of Brian Eudy and a late touchdown run by Kenny Thompson,
stunned the Sun Devils.
"I think that was my favorite Bell
Game," said Leland Eudy, veteran coach of the Jackrabbits and the father of
Brian. "We weren't supposed to win that game."
Valley leads the series 24-13. Included
are forfeited VictorValley triumphs in 1994 and 2000, both
for ineligible players.
The 1994 Jackrabbit victory is
perhaps the most memorable in the history of the rivalry. Trailing by one point
in overtime, then-Victor Valley coach Art Sanchez gambled and went for a
Maurice Brown took a handoff
around the right side, bounced off several Sun Devil defenders and bulled into
the end zone. The pulse-pounding victory ignited a wild victory celebration at
Ray Moore Stadium.
VictorValley's team raced to the
Valley side to re-claim the bell.
Meantime, Jackrabbit fans descended upon the field and turned it into a big mosh
It was a bitter defeat for Pulice,
who was then the defensive coordinator under former coach Steve Morgan.
"I was emotionally drained,"
Pulice said. "You hate to lose in a situation like that."
Such standouts as running back
Anthony Ambers, wideout Corry Johnson and quarterback Phil Rivera will lead the
Valley offense tonight. The defense is
paced by linebacker Ronald Spears and linemen Jordan Bernal (6-3, 240) and Chris Barr (6-4, 240).
VictorValley is led by quarterback Brandon
Shanklin, lineman Brandon Tafoya, slotback/cornerback Daniel Diaz and running
back Rashard McCoy.
Neither team is ranked among the
top 10 in San
BernardinoCounty, and haven't been for a while.
And, yet, this game couldn't mean more to the local citizenry, with a large
HighDesert has changed considerably since
the birth of this rivalry. Businesses have popped up left and right, real estate
is booming and the cities of Victorville and Apple
Valley both have two high schools now,
with the new schools siphoning off a considerable amount of talent.
But some traditions don't die
easily. Case in point is Apple
Valley students arriving to school
Wednesday to see VictorValley green and black paint adorning
the Sun Devil gymnasium and cafeteria.
That didn't surprise Eudy in the
"They got our stadium last year,"
Eudy said. "When I played they would hang rabbits all over the campus before the
game. Then during the game they would throw them at us from the stands."
directors or coaches who would like to suggest a player, coach or game to be
featured may contact prepca.com football editor John Faulkner at