FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WUSA) -- Tonight's USA Today Game of the Week is between Stuart High School and Falls Church High School in Fairfax County, and it's not not your ordinary football game. This match-up marks another year in a rivalry that started before any of today's players were even born. It's called the Bell Game.
The Stuart Raiders have had it for the past two years, but the Falls Church Jaguars want it back. "It" is a bell, and the the prize up for grabs in tonight's game. Students at each school have been competing for the bell for more than 50 years.
PHOTOS: Falls Church And Stuart Prepare For The Bell Game
"'Don't lose the bell.' When I got hired that's the only thing the principal asked me to do ... She goes: 'Don't lose the bell,'" said Stuart head football coach Roy Ferri.
At Falls Church, the importance of the match-up is the same.
"This is the
most important game of the year," said Jaguars head coach Said Aziz.
Per school history, the bell came from the USS Jeb Stuart and became the centerpiece of this decades old rivalry. The winner gets to keep the bell all year long. The rivalry began in 1960 when a Falls Church assistant principal left to become principal of the newly opened J.E.B. Stuart High School and suggested the friendly football competition.
"It's just something great to play for at the end [of the season], no matter [what], it's something to look forward to," said Stuart senior Hector Fernandez, who will be playing in the third bell game of his high school career.
Bragging rights for the school and the community are on the line.
"Kids always talk about the bell. When I go to shoppers over here, I'll have a random person walk up to me and say, 'Coach, you going to get the bell back this year?'" said Aziz.
Stuart has had possession of the bell 32 times, Falls Church, 19. There was one tie, but something everybody takes ownership of in this game is the spirit of competition, sportsmanship and wholesome rivalry.