For the past three years, nothing has gone the way Colby Bell planned. And yet, the former Walnut Grove Warrior turned George Walton Academy Bulldog wouldn’t change a thing.
“I wouldn’t be the player I am today if things hadn’t worked out the way they did,” said Bell, who’s set to begin the final season of his roller-coaster high school football career.
Bell spent his first eight years of school at GWA. But heading into high school, he transferred to Walnut Grove.
“George Walton didn’t have a JV (junior varsity) or ninth-or ninth-grade team, and I felt like I needed to go somewhere where I could prepare myself for high school football,” Bell said.
Expecting to be playing on Thursday afternoons, Bell instead found himself as the starting quarterback for the Walnut Grove varsity on Friday nights when the team’s returner went down with an injury in the season opener.
In his first full game as the starter, he set the school’s single-game completion mark, going 20-for-42 with 166 yards and his first TD pass. A week later, he led the Warriors to a resounding win over cross-county rival Monroe Area.
He was replaced by the former starter after six games but still managed to compile 526 yards passing.
The next year, as the full-time starter, he passed for 1,114 yards, ranking him second in the county behind all-state quarterback Chandler Byron of Monroe Area.
Despite winning just six games in his two seasons at Walnut Grove, Bell has fond memories of his time there.
“I loved it,” Bell said. “We didn’t win a lot and I was this little skinny quarterback getting beat up. But I got to play varsity as freshman and learned became a better player.”
The next fall, he transferred back to GWA, where he planned to compete for the starting quarterback job. But his path was blocked by three-year returning starter Omar Daniels.
That led to another twist in his career: a spot on the other side of the ball at safety.
“I hadn’t played defense since I was a little kid in rec ball,” Bell said. “But it was really fun and I loved it.”
Unfortunately, he broke his foot in the season opener, an upset of Walnut Grove. He returned six games into the year and finished with 19 tackles.
Heading into his senior year, Bell is back at his natural position. But, as usual, he’ll have his challenges. He’ll be playing for his third head coach in as many years. In addition, a natural pocket passer who worked out of the spread at Walnut Grove, Bell will be running an offense based out of the Wing-T.
But if he’s proven nothing else, he’s flexible and resilient.
“You just go out and do what you’re told and do your job,” Bell said.
Shane Davis, who replaced Don Williams as GWA’s head coach, is confident his signal caller is up to the task.
“He’s definitely got a great arm with a quick release,” Davis said. “But he’s also a physical kid who runs really hard. It’s almost like we’ve got an extra running back in the backfield.”