“I kind of lost my love for football in my ninth and tenth grade years,” admits Bell. “I wanted to concentrate on baseball and I did a lot of traveling ball in the summer.
“Coach (Clint) Smith lit a fire when he came and I decided to go out and try it and I liked it, loved it actually.”
Last year Bell had a banner year, scoring 17 touchdowns rushing for over 500 yards and passing for over 1,000. He had a way of getting out of trouble, or turning what looked like a certain loss into a big play, and all the while he looked like he was having fun. Genuine fun, like he really was enjoying the game.
“You can’t do anything unless you have fun,” reasoned Bell. “When you grow up and get a job if you don’t like it you will hate going to work.
“I like to treat every sport I play as a job I have. There’s times when you have to be serious and there’s times when you have fun. When I’m out on the field I just have the most fun I can with it.”
In a game against Cherokee County last year, the Warrior defense had broken through the Eagle line and had chased Bell down in the backfield for what looked like was going to be a 15 or 20 yard loss. Suddenly Bell escaped the grasp of his defender and turned a sure loss into a big gain, and came up smiling. “When plays like that up at Centre happen you have to stay calm and do what you know to do and just try to make the best of every situation,” explained Bell.
While Bell is known for his scrambling ability and his ability to quickly move the ball down field, he admits that he has spent a lot of time in the off season on his passing. “If I can run I love it and it just adds another level to you as a quarterback,” said Bell. “I worked a lot during the summer on throwing the ball. I worked a lot with pocket presence and just my throwing motion.” Bell said that this year if he can run the ball he will but he also knows that he can get more yards if he can set up and throw the ball.
Having Bell in the backfield certainly adds an extra dimension to the Eagles offense, an offense that has the opposition keying on running back Dominique Thomas. “Dominique is a huge threat, but with him being such a huge threat they forget about me, which allows me to get the yards that I do,” said Bell.
Teams likely won’t be forgetting about Bell anymore as the athletic quarterback scored three touchdowns in the first game of the season against Pleasant Valley racking up 143 yards on seven carries and scored two touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards on 14 carries this past Friday against Hokes Bluff.
Bell is a multi-dimensional young man, and describes himself as a student-athlete. In the classroom Bell takes AP classes, having taken AP Biology and AP English last year and is in advanced anatomy, math and English this year, all while maintaining a 3.8 GPA.
While Bell would love to go to college and play, preferably both football and baseball, he would also like to get an education that would prepare him for a career in nursing or computer science.
He admits that in his life, “studying is really up there,” and he enjoys being with friends and family but “sports is it, sports is really my life.”
Bell feels that the Golden Eagles will get to the playoffs this year, but that they have a lot of work to do to get there.
“Our line stepped up in our first game,” said Bell. “We have new faces out there. The line is where everything starts. As long as they keep working and getting good and the seniors are going to lead, put that together and we should make it.”
While there are many people in Bell’s life that are influential, he looks to one main person as his source of inspiration; his sister Mallory, an 8th grade student at JHS. “My sister plays a huge part in my life and having there looking up to me means so much. She is just always there for me when I need to smile or laugh or have someone to talk to. She is the best little sister anyone could ask for and I love her.”
Jacksonville currently is 2-0 on the season and has a long way to go to make it to the playoffs, but the team is in very capable hands and leadership with a quarterback with the talent of Bell.