The Final Chapter in a Nearly Century-Long Rivalry

GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa  --  After nearly 100 years of playing each other in football, the rivalry between Grundy Center and Gladbrook-Reinbeck will come to a close.

A vote taking place on September 12th to determine whether or not to dissolve the Gladbrook-Reinbeck School District is the reason the Battle of the Bell will end. Even if they don't dissolve, Gladbrook-Reinbeck will move to eight-man football.

The rivalry started in 1920, and separated by only nine miles, the competition helps define two small communities.

"I remember getting stories told to me about how there was literally nobody here in town, there wasn't a single car on the streets," said Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Walker Thede.

From coaches, to players, to residents, not having this game on the schedule is hard to fathom--especially when you think of what it has lived through.

"World Wars have passed, major world conflicts have gone on, just the changes in our world around us, but still the constant that remained was this game," said Grundy Center Head Coach Brent Thoren.

The weight of history does not go unnoticed by the players, whether they wear Rebel blue or Spartan maroon.

"It's an amazing honor just to be a part of the last game and it comes with a sense of pride and respect that you kind of feel just from myself and my teammates and then all the people who played before us," said Thede.

"It'd be for everybody. All the people that are going to be here, they're going to be reminiscing about all the times they played in this game, how their game went, and they might see a certain play that happens and it'll just blow them right back to when they played. So it's pretty special that we can be the ones that try to go out there and do it," said Grundy Center senior Jake Bangasser.

The two teams play for a bell, which both schools think would look good in their halls for the rest of time.

"We want it here forever, I mean that's what our motivation is," said Grundy Center senior Nolan Freeman.

"You have your duty to pay to come through and win this game for us and keep that bell with us," said Thede.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck has won 16 out of the last 19 meetings, but after almost 100 years their records are almost even.