On Friday night, Sept. 13, the 50th game between the Belen and Los Lunas high school football teams will be played in Los Lunas. David Puddu, vice-president and general manager of Number Nine Media Inc., which publishes the Valencia County News-Bulletin, said this week that the newspaper plans to take a lead role in celebrating the tradition by introducing a traveling trophy and a commemorative tabloid to honor the annual game between the Eagles and Tigers.

“The Belen-Los Lunas football game is one of the great traditions we have in Valencia County something in which we can take pride and call our own,” Puddu said. “We at the News-Bulletin want to honor the history of the game and create a tradition of sportsmanship through local competition amongst friends and neighbors.”

Puddu said a portion of the revenue the News-Bulletin generates through advertising sales from the tabloid will be distributed in equal shares to the athletic programs at both high schools.

The trophy, currently in production at Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing, will be a scaled-down version of a chile roaster, mounted on a wood base, Puddu said. The roaster will bear the News-Bulletin logo and scores from each game in the long-running series.

“In college football, they play for the Little Brown Jug and Kit Carson’s Rifle,” Puddu said. “We wanted to develop a trophy that would have meaning to us here in Valencia County.”

Puddu said the chile roaster was chosen because roasting chile and the Belen-Los Lunas football game have long been fall traditions in the county.

The game itself will be promoted as “the Valencia Bowl” to pay tribute to the annual game between the county’s two public high schools.

The Eagles and Tigers have played a football game against each other every year since 1953. Belen holds a 32-15 edge in the series, though Los Lunas has won the last five games. There have been two ties.

Puddu said who wins and who loses is not what’s important. In seeking the blessing and cooperation of the school districts, he stressed that the emphasis of efforts would be to celebrate the tradition of what has developed into a spirited, but friendly, rivalry between the neighboring schools.

“This would be a traveling trophy designed to get our communities involved and foster a sense of pride in our schools,” he said. “I hope this idea is viewed as a positive step in creating pride and good sportsmanship for all.”

The commemorative tabloid will include articles highlighting games of years past, recollections of former players and coaches, feature stories and rosters of this year’s teams. Puddu said the tab will be released along with the Sept. 7 edition of the newspaper, one week prior to the game. Additional copies will be distributed at the game.

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.