Hoover High Coach Chris Long said he thought of the idea of playing a Week One game against Glendale when he realized he needed an opponent to begin the year. Hoover played Sierra Vista the past two years in the first game of the season.
Long pitched the idea to Glendale Coach Alan Eberhart, whose team also needed a Week One game after its two-year contract with Cathedral ended.
After a week of discussions, both schools finalized the deal Friday.
Glendale will be the "road" team in Week One and will be "home" team in Week 10, as the game takes place as usual at Glendale High's Moyse Field, which serves as both teams' home field.
"We talked about it," said Eberhart, whose team defeated the Tornadoes, 54-19, in the 83rd meeting between the cross-town rivals, bringing the Victory Bell back to Glendale a year after losing to Hoover. "We both needed a Game One. We both would like to play somebody we could beat. I think it creates a little excitement. We see how many people come to the last game and how few people come to any other game. Why not try it?"
Over the previous five seasons, the two schools have combined to go 13-86-1, with no playoff appearances and five of those victories coming against each other.
Long said the opening game will promote excitement for both schools, like it always does for the last game.
"It's a win-win situation for everybody," he said. "Everybody knows how big of a game it is for both schools, our community and our alumni. Plus we will have a big crowd at the start of the year. It's a big game for everyone."
He also hopes that more students will consider playing for Hoover because of the new schedule.
"Both schools are struggling for numbers," Long said. "This is another way to motivate more kids to come out for the summer time."
The winner of the first game will not claim the Victory Bell. The Victory Bell will be awarded to the winner of the second game — which acts as both schools' homecoming game.