Prep football: Patriots quarterback shuts out criticism, moves forward
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In two seasons as the starting quarterback for the high-profile George Washington High School football team, Trevor Bell has received more than his fair share of criticism.
As the Patriots senior enters the final regular-season game of his varsity career, the much-maligned signalcaller has learned to shut out the voices and move forward.
Bell shouldn't hear much entering Saturday's game against Parkersburg (4-5) at UC Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
"I love my team and I tell myself before every game that I'm going to do everything I can to not let them down," said the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Bell. "That's who I play for."
Saturday's game against the Big Reds represents a chance for the Patriots to improve their postseason stock, which means getting as many home playoff games as possible.
Win, lose or draw, the Big Reds will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Parkersburg hopes to not only seize the opportunity to damage GW's playoff positioning but add to some impressive numbers of its own.
Senior running back Adam Lindamood, the younger brother of former Parkersburg standouts Joey - a Big Reds assistant coach - and Matt Lindamood, enters the game with 1,202 yards on 181 carries and 14 touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Aaron Roberts has thrown for 1,099 yards with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The defense has been the issue for Coach Don Reeves' team, which has not surrendered fewer than 21 points in any game and is giving up an average of 29.2 per contest.
That could be good news for the Patriots, who have another regular-season chance to show off their offensive diversity, which includes Bell's arm.
His responsibility in the success of the Patriots (7-2) expanded 10-fold during last week's 49-20 win over Columbus, Ohio-based St. Francis DeSales.
During most of the 23 games he has played for GW, Bell's job description was to hand the ball to 2011 Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer. Switzer ran for 2,785 yards last season in leading the Patriots to the Class AAA state championship game, proving that a winning plan.
As teams attempt to corral Switzer, the Patriots are diversifying their attack.
Last week, DeSales held Switzer to 85 yards on 16 carries. Meanwhile, Bell completed 14-of-17 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He came into the game just 39-of-78 for 568 yards and six touchdowns in eight games.
However, there is some risk with the reward Bell brings.
He had an ill-advised pass returned 23 yards for a touchdown and an intentional grounding penalty that eventually turned a first-and-goal at the DeSales 8-yard line into a fourth-and-goal from the 34.
"We told him, 'Hey man, be a little smarter with it. Just keep going, you just have to keep working,' " GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. said.
"Me being a senior, I have two years of experience and I know an interception's not the end of the world," Bell said. "I know I hurt my team. It was one of those things where I know I can come back and I know my teammates have the ability to pick me right back up."
On GW's first play after the interception, Bell hit senior wide receiver Jordan Clay for a 19-yard gain. During that drive which resulted in a touchdown, Bell connected with Clay for 29 yards on a fake punt.
"Trevor threw the ball right where it needed to be," Clay said. "The coaches gave him the opportunity to throw and he stepped up and put the ball where it needed to be. He had a great game."
Clay was his favorite receiver, catching 10 passes for 136 yards. He had caught only 15 in the previous eight combined.
The coaches and players chalked up the passing game's success to game planning against their out-of-state opponent.
However, it could become a more permanent fixture as the Patriots hope to play their last game of the 2012 season Dec. 1 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Switzer, who will play collegiately at the University of North Carolina, is one of the state's most dangerous offensive players. As teams continue to stack the line of scrimmage to contain him, Bell will find more opportunities through the air.
And, the rest of the Patriots could benefit handsomely from the changes.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.