This fall, MaxPreps and the National Guard will visit high school football rivalries all across the country as we honor what is quite possibly the greatest tradition in sports. We're sending photographers and videographers out to capture the whole rivalry experience between some of the longest standing rivals in the nation.
Our second game of the season takes us to Pennsylvania for the Battle of the Bell. The Rivalry Series microsite has all the details and information you'll need to follow this long-standing rivalry from start to finish.
Battle for the Bell
Outside of school Scranton and West Scranton like each other. But on
the football field the Knights and the Invaders would just as soon
partake in a full-blown rumble. It’s what the ‘Bell Game’ brings out in
those who attend these two northeastern Pennsylvania high schools.
The Battle of Scranton began in 1954 when West Scranton, Scranton
Central and Scranton Tech competed for an old railroad bell. The
winning school earned the right to ring the bell, paint it their school
colors and take it home until the next ‘Battle of the Bell’ was to be
In 1991 Scranton Central and Scranton Tech closed their doors,
and the newly built Scranton High School took the torch and began
butting heads with West Scranton on an annual basis, keeping the history
and traditions alive. Although West Scranton won the first four modern
day Bell Battles beginning in 1991, Scranton has come out victorious in
14 of the last 26 tussles after winning five straight games from
West Scranton, who has been victorious in 34 ‘Bell Classics’
overall, according to a Times Tribune blog and the research of Mike and
Matt Nycz, took last year’s tussle 28-21 to take back the bell. The
Knights and Invaders did play two games in 1993 with West Scranton
winning both contests by a combined 55-12.
A Scranton School District teacher’s strike nearly vanquished the
annual clash for a year in 2015. But since neither team qualified for
the playoffs, the contest was held in mid-November, allowing the Knights
to earn a fifth straight win in the series.
With last year’s triumph, West Scranton wants nothing more than
to turn this football fisticuff back in its favor. Scranton, on the
other hand, is delighted with its two-game upper hand.
A swarm of football fans are expected to flood the Electric
City’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. So arrive early if
you’d like to witness the next Battle for the Bell, one of
Pennsylvania’s true grudge matches.
Scranton High School, home of the Knights, is located just northwest
of downtown Scranton in northeast Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County. With
a 2017-18 classification enrollment of more than 1,400 students, the
Knights compete on the gridiron in Class 6A, Pennsylvania’s largest
After taking over at Scranton in 2008, Mike Marichak is 55-43
overall and 7-2 in his quests for the Bell during those nine seasons.
Scranton won five straight decisions over its rival beginning in 2011,
and took three straight games from 2002-2004. In 2008 and 2009, Scranton
went back to back in what has become one of Pennsylvania’s merciless
Scranton is 14-12 in the modern day Battle of Scranton.
Marichak’s Knights have posted five winning seasons since he was
promoted from assistant coach to head coach, outscoring Scranton’s
cross-town foe by a 21-19 average. In 2002, the Knights qualified for
the state football playoffs, losing to Interboro 36-19 in first round
action. Scranton qualified for district play in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
The Knights last knocked off West Scranton 21-14 in 2015 in what
is the only overtime game of the modern era in this rivalry. Scranton
has posted three shutouts in their 14 wins and held the Invaders to a
touchdown or less seven times during Battle of the Bell triumphs.
A season ago, the Knights handed the bell back over to West
Scranton after holding onto it for five straight seasons. You can bet
that the Knights want nothing more than to flip the lid on their rivals
and to take the bell back, while also striving for postseason play once
West Scranton Invaders
West Scranton High School, home of the Invaders, is located about two
miles to the southwest of district rival Scranton High School. With a
2017-18 classification enrollment of more than 700 students, the Invader
football team will compete in Class 4A this fall.
Led by Coach Brian Fahey, who took over for Joe Gerek beginning
in 2014, the Invaders have posted a 10-21 record over the past three
seasons. As Fahey and his coaching staff look to improve on that mark,
they can look to West Scranton’s first triumph over its rival Knights
during their tenure for direction. After posting a 28-21 win last fall,
the Invaders are 1-2 against Scranton since 2014.
Trailing 12-14 in the Battle for the Bell series, West Scranton
has actually posted 13 wins against the Knights since 1991 after the
Invaders took a second contest from their rival in 1993. Counting the
extra win, West Scranton swept the first five clashes in this fierce
rivalry, outscoring Scranton 120-12 during that time frame. The Invaders
posted three shutouts during that initial run, and went back to back
against their rival in 1998 and 1999.
In 2006 and 2007, the Invaders qualified for the state football
playoffs after going a combined 19-8, including a 12-2 mark in 2007.
West Scranton fell to Pottsville 40-28 in PIAA 3A opening round action
in 2006 and lost to Garnet Valley 27-22, bowing out in the
quarterfinals, a year later. During the two-year run the Invaders were
4-2 in postseason play.
Last fall’s 28-21 triumph over Scranton was the first for the
Invaders since West Scranton bumped the Knights 34-8 in 2010, giving
Fahey the upper hand in momentum going into this fall’s Battle of
Scranton. After experiencing the torment of defeat in Bell Battles five
straight seasons, the Invaders are bound to tighten their grip on the
bell as they go for their first back to back wins in this series since
1998 and 1999.
West Scranton and Scranton fans will be happy to know that after the game, photos will be available to download FOR FREE because this game is part of our special Rivalry Series program presented by the National Guard. Check back here on Monday, following the game.
To learn more about the Battle for the Bell game and the other teams who are a part of the 2017 Rivalry Series, check out the MaxPreps Rivalry Series microsite.