Hurricane Sandy may have shortened the school week in Northern Virginia, but nothing could stop the JEB Stuart and Falls Church high school football teams from battling in the annual Bell Game.
With only two days to prepare for the game, Stuart Head Coach Roy Ferri said at this point of the season, they’ve already got a lot of their plays in. With both teams coming in with a 2-7 record, this game means everything. The Bell Game will be played at Stuart Friday with a 7:30 p.m. kick off.
“Our season hasn't gone the way we'd like, but if we win the bell game, then all's forgiven,” Ferri said Wednesday. “This game is our Super Bowl.”
With high school football playoffs starting next week, Mary Shaw, spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools, said she doesn’t anticipate any scheduling changes and games will go on as scheduled. Tom Horn, athletic director at George Mason High – a football program within the Falls Church City Public Schools – will also play their final game of the season against Manassas Park High at home.
Dating back to 1960, the Bell Game started when an assistant moved from Falls Church High to become principal at Stuart, said Said Aziz, head coach of the Jaguars. The principal then came up with the idea of getting a bell from an old Navy ship, thus creating the rivalry.
Since 2006, Falls Church leads in the series with a 3-2 record in the Bell Game. The last time the Jaguars won a Bell Game was in 2009 when they defeated Stuart 42-20. Stuart has won the last two meetings including a 54-26 win last season.
Aziz said his team is excited to play and ready to play.
“We just need to focus on correcting our mistakes,” Aziz said. “We tell our kids all the time that we need to play a complete game in all three phases: special teams, offense and defense.”
Come Friday night, Ferri said the grass field will be ready for the game. Hurricane Sandy dumped a lot of rain on the area and Stuart’s athletic fields weren’t exempt causing the Raiders to practice on the asphalt of a school parking lot Wednesday.
“Our game field may be a little wet, but our athletic staff does a great job getting it ready for play,” Ferri said.