This is the longest running rivalry in the state of North Carolina. The two teams play for a coveted railroad bell that was donated to the school in 1950. The two schools have played continuously since 1931. This game is the fifteenth-oldest rivalry in the nation.

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The Concord High Spiders are coming off an impressive 15-1 season that took them all the way to the state championship game against Havelock. The Spiders ended up losing that game 21-13. Several players are returning to this year's team, many of whom have played in the last two state title games. Coach Glen Padgett likes his team's chances, but says role players "have to step up fast".

A.L. Brown is coming off a disappointing season where they finished 7-5 (4-3), but Coach Mike Newsome is excited for the start of this season.

"Anytime you can get on the football field, it is a good day."

"We are having a quarterback battle, and both guys are working hard. We do return a lot of players on offense, so being able to go out on the first day with the whole offense was a big deal," says Coach Newsome.

Concord plays A.L. Brown for the Battle for the Bell, a game which Concord has won every year since 2012. Neither team has won three straight since 1997, when A.L. Brown won seven in a row.

This is the longest running rivalry in the state of North Carolina. The two teams play for a coveted railroad bell that was donated to the school in 1950. The two schools have played continuously since 1931. This game is the fifteenth-oldest rivalry in the nation.

Concord leads the series 42-38-4, but since 1975, Kannapolis has won 24 out of 38 games. At the end of the game, the losers perform the traditional exchange of the bell at midfield. The winning team paints the bell in their school colors for display for the entire school year.

Rocky Reid is the star back returning for Concord, and with a commitment to the University of Tennessee in hand, Rocky can focus on his senior season. Rocky rushed for more than 3,000 yards last season and 39 touchdowns, which set county records in both categories. Rocky is a 6-foot, 225 pound back who can not only run past you, but through you. He has the ability to change directions, catch the ball out of the backfield and pick up the blitz.

When asked about the rivalry against A.L. Brown, Rocky says, "It's all about winning that bell, and keeping it home… You can't treat that game like another game… It's more than just a game."

Both teams have tradition, both winning state titles and playing in the big game. Nine of the last 10 years, prior to last year, the game was played for the conference championship.

When Coach Glen Padgett was asked if it was any different playing Kannapolis game one, he replied, "It creates a different sense of urgency at the beginning of the season that you may not normally have."

Coach Padgett was nothing but complimentary about A.L. Brown and their team, saying "A.L. Brown has a great football program… More of a matter of respect than hatred".

When asked about expectations for this season, A.L. Brown Coach Mike Newsome says, "Expectations are not going to change… We expect a lot of our players, we expect a lot of the coaches, and the fans demand a lot of us".

Both teams are expecting a high intensity game, but both coaches and players say they respect one another and are just looking forward to competing. Both teams get the sense that at the end of the day all the players are friends after the game, but when those lights come on and that whistle blows all that will be thrown out the window.

Until then, we just have to wait-- only 23 days! But who's counting?

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