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This was the moment Liberty sophomore quarterback Nate Bell worked his entire life for.
His family is immersed in sports. His younger brother is throwing a football on the sidelines. His older brother is a college baseball player.
So, sports were what Bell wanted, and while the pandemic dragged on and delayed the campaign, Bell was never going to stop preparing for what he always dreamed of.
“I’ve just been working for this my whole life, like in the offseason I’ve been working,” Bell said. “No matter how many games we got, I just try to put my all into it and show what I can do.”
These last two weeks only highlighted Bell’s sensational play even more.
In Friday’s 30-21 victory over rival Heritage in the Brentwood Bowl, Bell was a crucial element in Liberty’s big win to cap the season, which gave it a 4-1 record and a No. 24 spot in the Bay Area Football Rankings. Bell scored four times – three on the ground and once through the air, which accounted for all of the team’s touchdowns – while throwing for 195 yards and rushing for 138.
Head coach Matt Hoefs said Bell did that despite injuring his throwing shoulder the week prior and not throwing in practice leading up to the game.
“He was kind of one of those game-time decisions, like, ‘Can you go?’ He said, ‘Of course I can go.’ The adrenaline is running, and then on the first ball he throws a nice rip and the rest is history,” Hoefs said.
And Bell did much of the same in the previous game versus Freedom, a 21-14 Lions win, which showed just how much more confidence and command he is gaining each week.
Bell was a remarkably efficient 29-of-34 passing for 368 yards and two scores while finding the endzone on the ground.
“1,000% (more confident),” Bell said. “I feel like I definitely got better as each game went on, so I’m glad I had some games to play in.”
Both of those valiant performances came after a tough 55-7 loss to No. 3 Pittsburg, when Bell said he and everyone came together and made sure the rest of the season would be far different.
“We knew we had to prove people wrong, and we knew what we could do, so we just had to go out there and play like it,” Bell said.
At year’s end, Bell finished as one of the region’s top passers, including as the No. 1 sophomore passer in the entire North Coast Section by going for 856 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. He also finished with 219 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Hoefs is excited about the next two years coaching Bell.
“It’s only going to get better. It’s only going to get better,” Hoefs said. “The more he grasps the offense, the more we can open it up a little bit, the more we can be aggressive. I think the last couple weeks showed that we put a little bit more trust in him. He’s running the show. He knows it. He’s doing a great job. He’s a smart kid.”
Way to go Nate! So proud of you and the rest of the Lion squad! We can’t wait for next season!
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