NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — After a rare loss on opening night, the West Essex football team has reeled off five consecutive victories—and a major part of the team’s turnaround is junior Chris Bell.
“I think heading into this year, we were going to be good—similar to last year,” said Bell. “We lost a lot of players at the skill positions, but we have the players that will step up.”
Six games into the 2019-2020 season, Bell has proven himself as the team’s biggest offensive threat out of the backfield. Prior to Friday night’s game against Nutley, where Bell scored four touchdowns for his team, the junior already led West Essex with 562 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the first five games.
The junior attributes his solid play to the teammates in front of him.
“The line has been really helping a lot,” said Bell. “I’ve just been following them with their good blocking.”
Coming into this year, Bell knew he would be a major factor in the team’s game plan from week to week. Looking to improve his abilities, Bell worked out tirelessly during the offseason in the school gym and his local club. To improve his overall physique, he explained that his workouts often include a healthy blend of squats, weight balances and cardio.
“In our weight room, we have a football workout that I’ve been doing, and that helped me along with a place called Parabolic,” said Bell, who has grown tremendously since his sophomore year. “I think I got stronger and faster from last year and I think that’s helped.”
Bell is a two-way player for the Knights, also contributing defensively. As an outside linebacker, Bell has been a solid playmaker in coverage and the line.
Despite his early-season successes, which also include more than 20 tackles and a handful of interceptions thus far, Bell said he is always looking to improve.
“I’d like to improve on my tackling and some coverage,” he said.
In addition to his four touchdowns on Friday night against Nutley, Bell had another impressive showing earlier in the season against Hanover Park, where Bell had 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go along with six tackles and an interception on the defensive side of the ball.
“Against Hanover Park I did pretty good, but I think I could have done better,” said Bell. “When I was running the ball, I was going right to where the holes were; and on defense, I was doing the coverage right.”
The Knights currently sit at 5-1 with the stretch run of their schedule upcoming. The team has a number of tough opponents on their plate, but Bell feels the squad is up to the task.
“I think we’re going to keep winning,” he said. “We have some tough games, but I think we’re good enough to learn new things that will help us win.”
As for his own performance, the tailback hopes to continue growing as a player and producing for his team as the games get more challenging.
“I’m just working hard and doing everything I can [to perform],” said Bell.
The Knights will take on their local rival, James Caldwell, in West Caldwell on Friday at 7 p.m.