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Jimmy Kells excelled for Hereford in three sports

Jimmy Kells excelled for Hereford in three sports
Hereford's Jimmy Kells, right, battles with Glenelg's Drew Sotka during the championship match in the 2A/1A 170 weight class at the MPSSAA State Wrestling Tournament. Kells, the North County News Male Athlete of the Year, lost the match, 5-4. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media)

Hereford High senior three-sport standout and North County News Male Athlete of the Year Jimmy Kells was the starting quarterback last fall on the football field and went 38-2 on the wrestling mat, where he lost in the state finals.

But, Ric Evans, who coached him in football and baseball, says the sport he prefers most is baseball.

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“He’s a three sport athlete and you are not going to find one better,” Evans said. “He loves baseball. Baseball is his passion and his teammates referred to him as Mr. Universe. He was All-County and All-State. They even had a picture of him with the Milky Way Galaxy behind him.”

The club also had a postgame cheer dedicated to Kells.

“Instead of saying Bulls on three, they would say Jimmy Kells on three,” Evans said. “It was nuts, I’ve never seen anything like it. This was no joke, this was out of respect for the kid.”

Kells was batting over .500 for much of the season and the shortstop finished at .463.

The Bulls posted a 13-8 record and won a regional title, but they lost to La Plata, 1-0, in the Class 2A state semifinals.

In that game, Kells did everything he could to keep the game close in the second inning.

In the bottom of the inning, La Plata’s Austin Brown led off and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Harris.

Brown was thrown out at third by Kells for the second out.

The next batter, Tyler Moody, drilled a double down the left field line that went all the way to the wall. Left fielder Nate Gernand relayed to Kells and he fired a strike to catcher Drew Kinsey for the tag on Michael Gill.

“He had key plays in that game (La Plata), but he had key plays the last three years,” Evans said.

His starting shortstop for three years, Evans marveled at his desire to improve.

“His work ethic is unbelievable, He works hard to get better every day,” Evans said.

His toughness also showed in a game against Towson.

“He got nailed in the face with a ball while he was batting and they stopped the game, they had a lacrosse game going on so they had one of the trainers come over and look at him and they cleared him,” Evans said.

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“He said ‘Coach, I’m good, I’m good,’ so we left him in the game and his hit in that at bat was smoked up the middle and hit the pitcher with the ball and he got a single out of it and then he finished the game by making incredible plays in the field.”

As a junior, Kells played free safety where Evans said, “he just played phenomenal.” He was also the backup quarterback and he moved into the starting role as the signal-caller last fall.

“He was your basic leader on the field by his actions, everything he did,” Evans said. “We had seven wins and he was a big part of every one of those.”

The Bulls narrowly missed a playoff spot, so Kells go a little extra pre-season work on the wrestling mat.

He opened the season with a pin over Pikesville’s Elijah Edwards, wrestling up from 160 to 182.

“When it's winter, I put all my heart into wrestling,” said Kells after the match.

He later earned his 100th career win and finished with a 138 overall victories.

After placing third in the state meet in 2018, he reached the state finals in 2019, falling 5-4 to Glenelg junior Drew Sotka at 170 pounds.

Earlier in the season, he defeated Sotka in the Bauerlein Duals.

Kells also won the Class 1A-2A regional championship at 170 pounds and captured his second Baltimore County individual title with a pin in 35 seconds in the finals.

He definitely made a positive impression on Catonsville High coach Eric Warm, whose Comets finished 14-0 in dual meets.

“Jimmy Kells from Hereford is like wrestling an octopus, he is just coming at you from all angles and you don’t know where it is coming from or how to stop it,” Warm said.

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