Varsity Kansas

Beau Bell adds his own spin to the family tradition

Mike and Mark Bell, twin brothers, are as close as their DNA suggests.

They played football together at Bishop Carroll, went to college together at Colorado State and played in the NFL at the same time — Mike with Kansas City and Mark mostly with the Seattle Seahawks.

They both have a lot of defensive end in them, too, being that both played the position for years, though Mark moved mostly to tight end in college.

Yes, the Bell brothers don't like quarterbacks.

"The only thing I like about them is that I got to hit them,'' said Mike, now 53 and working in the family floor covering business with his brother.

Beau Bell, Mike's son, is a chip off the old block. He had 17 sacks as a defensive end for Bishop Carroll this season and his thirst for quarterback blood is unquenchable. These Bell boys never met a quarterback they didn't want a piece of.

But here's the irony: Beau's cousin, Blake, is a quarterback. You might have heard of him. Last season, he was one of the best high school players in the country at Carroll and now he's at Oklahoma, waiting his turn in the Sooner pipeline.

Blake is Mark's son, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound quarterback sculpture. He's tall like his dad and uncle. He's a gifted thrower and runner. He brings art and grace to every game in which he plays.

In a family of rabid pass rushers, Blake is the novelty.

Beau is 6-foot, 210 pounds. He didn't get the Bell gene for height and it took a long time for his coaches to figure out where he fit best on a football field.

As a sophomore at Carroll, he was playing linebacker. But it wasn't really working, so last season Beau Bell switched to defensive end.

"He got his hand on the ground,'' is how Mike Bell refers to it.

And after a short adjustment period, Beau had found his football salvation. His speed and relentless nature fit perfectly at defensive end, where he comes barreling around the corner and lock quarterbacks in his sights.

He was the leader of a defense that shut out what looked to be an unstoppable Hutchinson team, 21-0, in the semifinals of the Class 5A playoffs, and joins his cousin as a Wichita Eagle Top 11 player. The Eagles' defense was outstanding all season, until a season-ending loss to Blue Valley in the state championship game.

"I'm so proud of Beau,'' said Mike Bell, who played 12 seasons for the Chiefs. "He had the year we were hoping he could have.''

Carroll coach Alan Schuckman kicks himself for not moving Beau Bell to defensive end earlier. But better late than never.

"We've had some pretty good defensive ends here, but when you break a school record with 17 sacks that says something,'' Schuckman said. "That's a position where we put our best players.''

With Bell, it's all about the motor. The guy is always churning. When he gets down in his stance, he has only one thing in his mind — beating the tackle if he's fortunate enough to just have to beat one blocker, and getting into the backfield. Pronto.

"That motor is something that was passed down through the genes and something you can't coach,'' Schuckman said. "Beau maybe didn't get all of the physical attributes, but the one thing he has is a motor. He's as good as any player we've had in getting from Point A to Point B quickly.''

Beau and Blake are more like brothers than cousins, really. Just a year apart, they were inseparable as kids. And it was when they were working out as grade schoolers with weight coach Artie Dillon that Beau got the bug.

"Then I'd get up at 6 in the morning and work out with my dad,'' Beau said. "I wanted to be like him so much so I tried to do as much as I could.''

Beau has everything his dad has except the size. Where did those six inches go? Where is that extra 50 pounds?

Blake Bell was the City League's golden boy, a two-time Top 11 player recruited by every school with a letterhead.

Beau doesn't have any college offers yet, although a number of schools have made inquiries. He's not going to be a defensive end at the next level; he doesn't have the size. A switch back to linebacker makes the most sense.

Regardless of what happens then, things in the Bell family have evened up.

Mike has his Top 11 player in Blake. And now Mark has his.

"It's great that Beau can have this kind of coming-out party,'' Mark Bell said. "You start thinking about it and Mike never had 17 sacks in a season on any level. One thing I've always said about Beau is that he's just relentless. If he gets blocked, he'll get off that block and keep coming. He plays like a wild man.''