Wins have been hard to come by this season for the Glendale High and Hoover football teams. Still, if there's one game that will always have plenty of meaning, it's the annual "Battle for the Victory Bell."
The rivalry between the Nitros and Tornadoes dates back to 1930. Plenty of high-caliber players have been a part of one of the longest-standing rivalries in the state before going on to enjoy respectable collegiate and professional careers.
The rivalry's 83rd installment will take place at 7 p.m. today at Glendale High's Moyse Field and is expected to draw the biggest crowd of the season for the Pacific League contest. Glendale is 1-8, 0-6 in league and Hoover is 0-9, 0-6.
Glendale leads the all-time season series at 48-33-2 and has possession of the bell after posting a 54-19 win in last season's meeting. Glendale bested Hoover, 20-6, in a nonleague game in the first week of this season.
Glendale Coach Alan Eberhart took part in the rivalry as a player nearly 40 years ago. It will be Eberhart's third season in a row roaming the sidelines for his alma mater.
"As a player, the anticipation is great," Eberhart said. "As a coach, it's tough because we haven't had a lot of success.
"You get out on that field and it's amazing because there's a lot of juice in the stands and that's what makes it the most fun. That's what makes it special for both teams."
For Hoover first-year Coach Andrew Policky, it will be his first time calling the plays after serving as a defensive coordinator the previous three seasons for the Tornadoes.
"It's just a great rivalry and you want to be a part of it," Policky said. "I'm excited we will be able to go out there and we want to try to get the bell back to Hoover.
"We know it will be a good game."
The Nitros, who suffered a 49-3 league loss against Crescenta Valley on Friday, will look to get back on track and snap their eight-game losing streak. Glendale will be led by quarterback Evan Norton, running back Alex Yoon and wide receiver Mike Davis.
The Nitros are 9-2 in the last 11 meetings and will look to win the bell for the second season in a row since accomplishing the feat in 2007 and 2008.
Hoover will look to bounce back from a 42-14 league loss against Burroughs on Nov. 3 and will turn to workhorse running back Luke Tabayoyong to end a 16-game losing streak.
"We've had a tough time being able to stop the run all season," said Eberhart, whose team has surrendered at least 44 points in seven straight games and an average of 52.5 points in six league contests. "Every team we've played has run at will.
"If we don't stop Luke, then it's going to be tough. We are going to have to be able to execute on offense and with our tackling to have a shot. We do have that ability."
The Tornadoes have spent most of the second half of the season relying on ball-controlled possessions. Hoover limited Burroughs to just one first-quarter possession and four overall in the first half.
That's something Policky said Hoover won't discard today.
"We are going to have to run the ball and control the flow of the game," said Policky, whose team yields 39.7 points per game. "We want to be able to go out there and wear down their defense.
"We feel like we have a chance to score some points. We also know that we have to be able to stop [Norton, Yoon and Davis]. We have focused on getting better each week. We have some confidence coming into the game and they believe they can win."