Steve Belles is now in his tenth year leading the Hamilton High School football program. The success they have seen is as good as any the state has ever seen and they’ve done all of it with what has been a revolving door at the quarterback position.
For the tenth consecutive season, Belles will be starting a new senior quarterback to lead his team. That last few seasons has players who have worked their way up within the program to finally earn the job as a senior and for many in just that one year, it was enough to give them opportunities to continue at the next level.
“Yeah we’ve been fortunate,” Belles told Sports360AZ. “It seems like every year we say ‘oh we have a new quarterback’ but I tell you what, they’ve either gotten reps as a back-up as juniors or they have just really studied the offense and came through. This year is no different.”
For this year, it is junior Austin Bell and sophomore Tyler Shough that are competing for the job. For Bell, it is an example of another possible “on-and-done” plug-in in a senior in his final season. If Belles names Shough, it would be the first non-senior signal caller during his tenure in the southeast valley.
“I think it is a great opportunity for my future if I can be able to gain the starting job,” stated Shough. “I’m going in and working hard every day. Just doing the best I can. I played baseball last season so I am just trying to get as many mental reps as I can.”
“It’s a great situation and I have a great team around me,” mentioned Bell. ” Obviously there are going to make my play better and if I get the chance to play at the next level, it’s a blessing. But right now I am just focused on winning games now and trying to get to that state championship.”
For Bell and Shough, they had the opportunity to witness first hand the work that it takes to have one year to own the starting job and make the most of it with what Travis Lockhart did in that role a year ago. He displayed enough in the short time as a starter to earn a scholarship to play at the Colorado School of Mines. Grades obviously played a huge part in that as well.
“Being behind Travis taught me a lot,” said Bell. “He taught me the system, he taught me the speed of everything. He just prepared me for this season and what’s to come and how to lead.”
“I am really good friends with Travis and I throw with him a lot,” added Shough. “He just tells me to keep doing what I’m doing and work hard while I am out here. I really look up to him.”
Coach Belles mentions that it isn’t an ideal scenario to have players come in and be a starter for one season, but it has been what has put them in the best position to win year-in and year-out.
“I’ve been here ten years and we’ve had 10 different starting quarterbacks” explained Belles. “If he’s good enough, if he’s the best kid and he’s a sophomore, we are going to play him. We just haven’t had that kid whose been better than the senior.”