Battle for the Bell TONIGHT
In 1889, Martin Chapin and his immediate family moved from Cortland, New York to the Dutch Fork area of South Carolina, that would later be known as Chapin. Shortly after, a railroad was built from Laurens, South Carolina to the capitol city of Columbia. This provided a faster means of transportation due to the increasing demand for cotton and lumber. In 1924, with 129 students spread out in 12 grades, Chapin High School opened it’s doors. With the construction of the Lake Murray Dam in 1927, the Chapin community was destroyed, untouched was the ever important railroad system that kept the town economically stable throughout the Great Depression.
The end of World War II brought an increase in population to the Dutch Fork area, schools became the main priority of town council members and politicians. Little Mountain, Pomaria, and Prosperity High School would all be combined in to what would be known as Mid Carolina High School in 1958. The Chapin Eagles and the Mid Carolina Rebels would first meet on the gridiron the following year, only coming 10 years after the Eagles had adopted their own football team and were no longer the “Flying Dutchmen” which was a team combined with the likes of Irmo and Chapin students. Now with a successful football program in the works and just 8 miles separating Mid Carolina from Chapin, a rivalry was born, one that will go down in history as the greatest in the state of South Carolina.
At least 3 times a day whether you are sitting on your front porch in Prosperity, South Carolina or sitting on your dock in Chapin, South Carolina, a train’s whistle can be heard, still transporting goods into the Capitol City. Today the trains once carrying manual bells have been replaced with automated horns, making the bell the perfect trophy for any good high school rivalry. Once on a freight train, it was rung at it’s station in Little Mountain and it’s station in Chapin, now it’s rung by the victor. One of Chapin’s all time leaders in yards, quarterback Matthew Charpia who served as the starting quarterback from 2011 to 2013 said “There is nothing like ringing the bell after the win, there is so much history to be celebrated in this rivalry and to see it in the right teams hands this year makes it that much better.” Charpia defeated Mid Carolina twice in his career once being the on controversial 5 down situation, in which he spiked the ball on 4th down but it was later ruled the ball was snapped before the referees whistle blew, which resulted in a dead play penalty and a replay of the down. Matt would go on to throw a Hail Mary in the end zone to wide receiver Eric Scheble for the game winning touchdown. Chapin fans called it the “Miracle on Lake Murray, the Rebels called it 5 downs and even called for Chapin’s athletic director to forfeit the game.
With last years win, the bell currently resides in the hallways of Chapin High School. Like the people of Dutch Fork, the bells paintwork is split in half. One side shows the famous eagle claw of Chapin and the other side portrays the interlocking “MC” of the Rebels, but it means more. It represents the history these two communities and schools share. Only 8 miles apart, but an 8 miles filled with rivalry and pure hate. Whether it’s 5 downs or hail Mary miracles, the Mid Carolina Chapin rivalry has and will always be the “Battle for the Bell.”
Jake Kea CSPN Sports