ROCKDALE, Texas — Only 18 miles of asphalt separate Cameron Yoe High School from Rockdale High School in Milam County, and whenever these two meet on the gridiron, the entire community comes out.
"I think it's the best rivalry in Texas," Cameron Yoe head coach Tommy Brashear says. "I'm a little biased but I think if we were two bigger cities, I certainly think it'd be considered that."
The 66th annual Battle of the Bell is set for this Friday. It's tradition for the winning team to keep the bell until the two teams meet again.
"If you lose that thing you feel terrible, you feel like you've let your community down," Brashear says. "But when you win it, you feel pretty good about yourself, big chested."
This is more than just a rivalry game though. It's also a district matchup that always has major implications on the Class 3A DI playoff picture.
"This doesn't look like a rebuilding Yoe team," Rockdale head coach Jacob Campsey says. "They have skill all over the field, linemen are coming together, so we'll have to play really well."
The Yoemen enter this game on a two-game winning streak, while the Tigers have lost three in a row. Campsey's squad has fallen behind big in each of those three games, and he knows that can't happen against Yoe if the Tigers are going to win back the bell.
"It's a really neat tradition to have the bell," Campsey says. "Two years running without having it after two years of having it so our guys are really hungry to get it back to Rockdale."
That'll be easier said than done though, as coach Brashear and his boys are going to do everything they can to keep it in Cameron.
"This could be a game of big plays," Brashear says. "We create big plays, they create big plays, so our defense has to do a good job of preventing those big plays."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm at Tiger Stadium.