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BELL WILL REMAIN RINGING BLUE
Senior quarterback/running back Andrew Sherman rushed for 3 scores, and threw for another, to ensure that in the 121st meeting of the teams, Central will, for the third straight year, have ownership of the coveted “Victory Bell.”
Before a Dutch Clark Stadium filled to capacity on the Blue side, and to near capacity on the opposite Red-filled bleachers, the Wildcats outran and outdistanced the Bulldogs of Centennial 42-0 to claim their 59th overall Bell Game victory.
With Central’s high-octane offense providing the firepower and frequent movement on the scoreboard, the Wildcat defense was conversely stingy, never allowing the Bulldog offense a sustained drive and forcing a number of punts while collecting three interceptions.
The tone was set early in the contest, with Central twice finding the endzone: a feat repeated in the second period, allowing Coach Kris Cotterman’s Blue Crew to take a comforting 28-0 lead into the halftime break.
The Centennial D, however, emerged re-energized in the third quarter, allowing the hard-charging Wildcats a lone score in the period.
That score, however, was a massive one: a 77-yard bomb from the arm of Andrew Sherman into the hands of Kaden Clay, who struck paydirt as time elapsed in the stanza.
Central added a final touchdown in the fourth quarter, which saw a long Centennial drive deep into Cat Country abruptly halted by the expiring game clock.
On the evening, Andrew Sherman finished with 64 yards on 9 carries and the 77-yard TD strike. Freshman Amari Brown, a bulldozer of a back, led the Central rushing attack with 110 yards on 19 carries and a score.
Central’s sixth score came on sweet 52-yard scamper by senior Marcus Martinez.
From the quarterback position, Josiah Barela completed 4 passes for 30 yards, with Marcus Martinez catching two of those passes for a total of 30 yards.
Defensively, freshman Genaro Pino stepped up to the plate, pocketing 8 tackles and an interception. The game’s leading tackler was sophomore Michael Montoya, who ended the contest with 10.
Josiah Barela had 2 interceptions to bolster the Wildcat secondary.
Both Marcus Martinez and Tanner Barker were credited with 4 tackles.
After a 2020 Bell Game limited in attendance due to pandemic protocol, the 2021 version lived up to the pomp and pageantry for which this historic rivalry is known.
A number of media outlets were on hand to cover the proceedings, which included performances from the dance and cheer teams of both schools and, at midfield during the halftime break, a “drum off” between the drumlines of the Dogs and Cats.
But before all of that happened, the game ball was choppered in by a Flight for Life helicopter carrying not only the ball, but Central Principal Destin Mehess and Centennial Principal Dave Craddock.
Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso and Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Morey were among the esteemed onlookers, with the pair of leaders alternately donning Blue and Red apparel as the quarters progressed.
District 60 Board of Education President Taylor Voss also took in the action, as did Board Member Barb Clementi.
Also with a strong and welcome presence was the United States Marine Corps, on hand to promote the Corps’ Great American Rivalry Series. And as there are few rivalries more beloved and long-standing than the Bell Game, Marines in dress blues were on hand to not only support the two teams in battle, but award a Most Valuable Player Award to Andrew Sherman at its conclusion.
“We pulled one together,” said Central Coach Cotterman post-game as the Central faithful continued ringing the retained trophy. “The kids flew around and it was good. We had a good week of work and I think the kids wanted to play.
“And to have the Bell for three years in a row feels pretty good.”
The victory gives Central a 1-0 mark in the South-Central League and 4-2 overall, with the East Eagles on tap Thursday at The Dutch.
Centennial falls to 1-5 overall and 0-1 in League.