A lot has changed since Hurst L.D. Bell last defeated neighboring rival Euless Trinity on the gridiron.
For example, Bill Clinton was still in the Oval Office and there was no Facebook, Twitter or iPad.
Since the Blue Raiders' 26-7 victory in 1997, the Trojans have won 14 consecutive matchups. Bell has also been forced to watch Trinity's ascension to national prominence as the Trojans claimed one state title after another (2005, '07, '09).
Bell (6-0, 3-0 in District 6-5A) appears better equipped to topple Trinity (4-2, 3-0) than it has in years.
The game has even prompted a Hurst-Euless-Bedford schools food-drive competition that collected almost 38,000 cans by Wednesday afternoon. But the charity ends with tonight's 7 o'clock kickoff at Pennington Field.
"It means everything, we can make history," Bell defensive tackle Mo Uasike said. "We'll still be talking about it the next 10, 20 years if we win."
The Blue Raiders' defense is one of the top units in the area, holding opponents to fewer than 12 points and 195 yards per game, led by a defensive line that returned all four starters from 2011. Junior linebacker Elliot Souter leads the team in tackles with 61.
Asked what they have to do to put an end to the streak, defensive linemen Kafo Tuha, Vili Leveni and Kameron Salley nodded and responded in unison, "Control the line of scrimmage."
While their response may sound cliché, nobody knows the challenge before them this week better than the Blue Raiders' defensive front.
They face a team that routinely overpowers opponents with a massive offensive line that averages close to 300 pounds per man, year in and year out.
"We have to show them that we're more physical, because last year's game was a tough one," Tuha said. "We got a little taste for what Trinity does, so this year we just have to go out and fight again."
First-year quarterback Colson Romano has steered the Bell offense to 436 yards per outing. The 6-foot, 195-pound junior's favorite target is wideout Aaron Dixon, who has emerged as one of the area's top receivers, with 46 catches for 743 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"I just worked harder than I did last year," Dixon said. "I stay after practice to run extra, I lift weights more and work harder in practice."
The Raiders' ground attack, which features running backs Bryan James, Daniel Dorsett and J.T. Vines, averages 190 yards per game behind a very good offensive line.
"We have a lot of senior leaders on the team and I think this is one of the best teams we've had here in a while," said Romano, who's thrown for 1,475 yards and 18 scores this season. "I feel like we're an all-around team and we're really close. So far, we've been executing on all cylinders."
Even with all of the success this season, there is no escaping the streak for the Blue Raiders.
"I talked to the players about it before, that it will be mentioned that it's been 15 years since Bell has beaten Trinity," Bell coach Mark Smith said. "But this is about the 2012 team. This game doesn't have anything to do with what has happened in the past, and I would have told them the same thing if we had won all of those games."
All are in agreement that the atmosphere at Pennington Field, with a capacity of 12,000, should be electric come game time.
"You can feel a difference for sure with this game. It goes back to the familiarity between the players on both teams and growing up in the same community," Smith said. "There is a lot of tradition and history with this game, but it definitely has a different feel to it when you walk out to a full stadium."
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760