Battle of the Bell, Rivalry Between Milford Buccaneers and Lake Forest Spartans
There are many rivalries here on Delmarva.
One that stands out is the rivalry game between the Milford Buccaneers and the Lake Forest Spartans, known as the Battle of the Bell.
The Battle of the Bell games began many years ago and were played on Thanksgiving Day. The bell used to be on the front of the train that took residents to and from the games, whether they were at Milford or Lake Forest. Now, the bell is given as a trophy to the winners of the last regular season Friday night game.
On Friday, Nov. 11, during the last regular season game, the buccaneers came out victorious and brought the bell back to Milford.
“It’s such a huge game and we really wanted to win it our senior year, because not winning it ever in high school and then finally winning it. It was incredible,” says Greggory Clark, Milford football senior LT/LG.
Students like to bond over the pride. Parents of players or community members. It’s something that former graduates can relate to immediately. Those who may have attended during the years when we had a dry spell can automatically have that sense of pride as well.
Each year the winner of the game and the score is engraved in the trophy.
Milford Head Football Coach Shaun Strickland’s father played at Milford years ago, and his Battle of the Bell victories are on the trophy. So this win meant that much more to Shaun.
“My father played football here. So he knows about the bell. That’s why it was kind of a big deal for me,” Shaun says. “His teams are on it, so their years have been on it. So it was a big thing for me to come back and that was one of the things he told me coming back, ‘make sure you get that bell back.'”
For senior players, it was a nice way to cap off their high school career.
“It’s the greatest feeling I’ve had here because we finally did something and put Milford back on the map to help us build our program back up to where it should be. Not just for me, but as the whole team, we feel like it was a great feeling we had to finally bring it back,” says William Kimmel, Milford football senior QB.
For Milford Football Assistant Coach, Ryan Deeney, winning was just as bittersweet as a coach, as it was when he played for Milford years ago.
“It’s just as sweet winning it as a coach as it was as a player. There was more physical work put into it as a player. As a coach, definitely more cerebral aspect involved – game planning, preparing for the game, putting the players in the right position,” Ryan says. “I notice the similarity leading up to the game as a coach and as a teacher compared to when I was a player. There was a lot of anticipation – everyone’s ready. Maybe a little bit of butterflies, but as soon as the kick-off happens, those are gone. Just a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement.”
The community is thankful that the bell is back in Milford.
“For the community, it’s a big thing. A lot of people all week, ‘hey get that bell back for us.’ A lot of alumni and teachers in the building and past teachers and just the whole community. It’s a big deal for them,” Shaun says. “For us to bring it back and to play in those games, it’s very meaningful – not just our program, but for our community as a whole.”
This small town rivalry is different from other rivalries in the area, but that’s what makes it so special.
“I think it makes it special knowing it’s tight-knit and it means a lot to two smaller communities that play every Friday night that may not get the looks that a lot of the other larger schools get. It makes it special and everyone in the state typically knows about it,” Shaun says.
The Milford Buccaneers are hoping to keep the bell in their own trophy case for many years to come.