Raised about three blocks from Monmouth College and his father the program's football coach, Carter Bell spent countless hours of his childhood attending practices and games.

There are published photographs of Bell sitting on the bench as a 7- or 8-year-old on game day next to former Monmouth greats Alex Tanney and Steve Zidow.

"He was the little guy on the sideline that was always there or the little dude running around and guys were squirting water at him," Steve Bell said of his son. "Those guys had a huge influence on him."

That young boy has developed into a four-sport athlete and the trigger man for Class 4A sixth-ranked Bettendorf's football team.

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, the junior quarterback has been the catalyst for a Bettendorf offense that has scored 111 points in the last 10 quarters.

Bell has completed more than 70 percent of his passes without tossing an interception. He's run for four scores, including a 71-yarder on the first play of last week's 56-0 rout over Cedar Rapids Washington.

"He's a gamer, someone who definitely likes having the ball in his hands," said Pleasant Valley coach Rusty VanWetzinga, whose defense has the challenge of containing Bell and the Bulldogs on Friday. "When he drops back to pass, he can go right, he can go left. And he can throw it. That's stressful on a defense."

Given Bell is a coach's kid and has been around football most his life, Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley admits the learning curve hasn't been as steep as most incoming juniors.

"He's very football savvy," Wiley said, "and mature beyond his years."

Still, Steve Bell hasn't had too much involvement in coaching up his son. He'll offer pointers occasionally, but most of the instruction comes from what Bell watches and insight he receives from his high school coaches.

That is by design.

"We watch film, but it isn't to the extent where (dad) is telling me everything and what to do," Carter said. "I've wanted to do my own thing.

"I don't want to be known as the kid who is good because he got coached by his dad."

Bell has always been intrigued by the intricacies of the quarterback position. In fact, Bell wears No. 11 because of Tanney, who holds the Division III all-time mark for career passing yards (14,249).

"I always loved that position, and I loved watching Tanney," Bell said. "I picked up a lot from watching him."

During the middle of Bell's eighth-grade year, his father resigned at Monmouth to accept the same position at Augustana College.

The change stunned Bell.

"It didn't seem real until we actually moved," Carter said.

Unable to sell their home immediately, Carter attended school at Monmouth-Roseville as a freshman.

He was an immediate hit, throwing for more than 900 yards and completing more than 50 percent of his passes as the Titans' starting quarterback. 

Once the family relocated to the Quad-Cities, Bell open enrolled at Bettendorf. It required him to sit out of varsity athletic competition for 90 school days. That meant no varsity football last season.

"As a competitor, he wanted to be on the field and he knew he had the ability to be on the field," coach Bell said. "He struggled with it mightily.

"I thought as a coach and as a dad it was the best thing that could have happened to him. It gave him a chance to step back and relax, get to know the place and that you have to earn everything you get. Sometimes when things happen too fast, it's not good."

Bell was the sophomore team's starting signal caller last fall. It allowed him to get acclimated to a higher level of competition and the Bulldogs' schemes.

"It was hard at the beginning, but I knew it was actually going to help me in the long run getting used to the system and not jumping into varsity right away," Bell said. "It helped me."

Football is just one aspect of his life. Bell also plays basketball, participates in track and field and is an all-conference performer on the baseball diamond.

Those other sports have aided in his development as a quarterback.

Baseball and basketball have helped with his accuracy as a passer and improved his instincts. Track and field has increased his explosiveness.

"He has really good spatial awareness, something that can't be taught," coach Bell said. "He's also very competitive and doesn't get overwhelmed by the moment."

As a result, Bell has turned into the total package for Bettendorf's offense.

Bell, who had three rushing scores a week ago, is averaging more than 6.5 yards per carry and has completed 24 of 34 passes for 354 yards and three scores. His quarterback rating is near 190.

"He really gives us that big-play potential," Wiley said. "He's elusive, tough to get a hit on and can make kids miss.

"He's starting to get a real good feel for our offense."

That's a scary thought for opposing defenses.

"We played well last week, but hopefully we can come out and put even more points on the board," Bell said. "This offense is capable of a lot of good things if we keep doing what we're doing."


Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.