Home Sports Local Sports Battle of the Bridge rages Friday night

Battle of the Bridge rages Friday night

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Dexter’s Matt Otero runs the ball over a Hagerman defender in last years Battle of the Bridge. Dexter won the game 23-0. (David Rocha Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Local football fans will flock to Demon Stadium in Dexter Friday evening for a game that has become a decades-long tradition for two local teams.

The Dexter Demons and Hagerman Bobcats will take to the field at 7 p.m. for what has become known as the Battle of the Bridge.

Friday’s game will mark the 47th Battle of the Bridge between Dexter and Hagerman — a town 6 miles to the north.

Dexter High School coach David Campbell said the Battle of the Bridge takes its name from the Rio Felix Bridge that extends across the Felix River, which separates the two communities.

The first two games between the rival teams ended in ties. Since then, Dexter has won 29 games and Hagerman 13, according to the Daily Record archives.

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Bud Kunkel, a member of the class of 1968 and former Demon himself, said the annual game is a big deal for Hagerman and Dexter — two small dairy and farm communities — where the schools are a large part of the community’s identity.

“You’ve got a rivalry between two small towns and the schools in those towns are the primary focus,” Kunkel said. “They don’t have an airport, they don’t have a big downtown area, they don’t have nice restaurants — the schools become the focus of the community in those small towns.”

The players are also no strangers to one another, who are now opposing teams having played alongside one another in Little League and other team sports.

Campbell said that for the third year, the winning team will get the Bridge Trophy. However, in small communities where small wins can mean a lot, Campbell said being able to say they won can mean a lot.

“It’s bragging rights for these kids for ones that graduate, especially if they are seniors that won all four years,” he said.

The game also is a festive occasion for those who come to watch it. Campbell said in recent years J.P. Stone Community Bank has hosted a tailgate party where hot dogs and soft drinks are served.

An annual dinner is held in the cafeteria of the high school that is a fundraiser for each year’s junior class.

This year’s game will have added emphasis because it is the homecoming game this year for both schools and will coincide with Dexter’s 50-year high school reunion.

Kunkel said that former classmates of his who now live in other communities and states will return for the class reunion and of course, the big game.

Campbell said that each year, the Battle of the Bridge draws many people back home.

He added that the Battle of the Bridge is one game that brings the college students back home.

Campbell said that as always, he expects the bleachers to be filled with Dexter and Hagerman residents.

“We’re both small towns, so most of the people will be there that night,” Campbell said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.