FOOTBALL | Bell’s uniqueness extends beyond name

South Kitsap senior Terro Bell has emerged as the school’s leading rusher after playing last year at Chiawana High School in Pasco. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
South Kitsap senior Terro Bell has emerged as the school’s leading rusher after playing last year at Chiawana High School in Pasco.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

He said the name comes from an African king.

But name value is not the only unique quality senior Terro Bell, who is named after his father, provides to South Kitsap’s football team.

Bell also has the distinction of becoming an impact newcomer at the school’s most decorated offensive position. For decades, the lead running back role was inherited from one 1,000-yard rusher to the next.

For Bell, he not only overcame that obstacle — he did not even play the position last year. While playing for Steve Graff, who has won three state championships, last year at Chiawana High School in Pasco, Bell said the was converted early in the season from running back to wide receiver. While the Wolves have not experienced the recent success of the Riverhawks, who advanced to the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs in 2011, the challenge to earn playing time at the state’s largest high school might not have been much different.

While South graduated Adam Gascoyne, senior Li’i Kalima, who opened last season as the starter at running back, and junior Marshaud DeWalt both were returning.

The challenge did not deter Bell.

When his mother decided to move back last spring to the West Sound, Bell decided to return. He said his younger brother, Corey, who also plays running back at South, considered staying with family in the Tri-Cities before returning, as well. Bell, who has been raised by a single mother, said they initially moved back to the Tri-Cities — he also spent his freshman year at Pasco High School — because they have a lot of family in that region.

“My family is just moving all over the place,” said Bell, who was born in Tacoma and lived most of his life in Seattle. “We went over there thinking we might like it and my mom decided she wanted to come back.”

Bell, who ran track as a sophomore at South, returned to the school last spring. It did not take him long to impress coach Eric Canton, who watched Bell during track season and then guided him during the Wolves’ 7-on-7 summer drills.

“It was pretty obvious how athletic he is,” he said. “I thought he would be able to help us out.”

That continued in July when Canton took 111 players to Fort Warden State Park in Port Townsend for six practices. As Bell began to assert himself, Canton said Kalima asked to focus on his starting role at cornerback.

Because Bell has shuffled through three different high school’s, Canton said he still is learning the nuances of South’s offense, which utilizes a fullback more than some of the other systems he has played in. But Canton said Bell’s vision has helped him claim the role of lead running back.

“When he makes a decision, he goes,” he said. “That’s half of the battle. A lot of guys get to the line of scrimmage and they’re still chattering their feet.”

Bell, who hopes to someday become a teacher, said he enjoys the challenge of learning the offense and helping his younger brother navigate through it.

“We haven’t played together since we were grade-school kids,” he said. “It’s kind of special to have your younger brother out there and teach him some things. He’s definitely a very explosive player.”

The Wolves, who remain winless in Class 4A Narrows League play after Saturday’s 28-21 loss at Olympia, just hope to see more explosiveness out of their offense as the season heads toward its conclusion. While Bell has rushed for 426 yards and three touchdowns on 67 carries, South has averaged just 16.3 points per game in league contests.

“We’re just trying to figure out what we need to do to get back on track,” Bell said. “Keep moving forward.”

Regardless of how the Wolves’ football season turns out, Bell plans to put his distinctive name in the school’s record books next spring.

“I’m planning to win state this year in the [400-meter relay],” he said. “We went to state last year and I think our team is better this year.”

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