Having spent four years playing an integral role in the turnaround of Meade's football program, Will Bell is ready to take on the next challenge at a heightened level.
Bell was announced as Severna Park's head coach Wednesday, taking over for the departed Mike Price.
"This is an opportunity I had my eye on immediately --- as soon as I knew it was open," Bell said. "I wanted to do more from a leadership position and I was interested in developing my own program."
Bell is a 2005 graduate of Bel Air High School, where he played tight end, wide receiver and defensive end, accumulating 86 receptions for 1,182 yards and 14 touchdowns while playing on county and region champion teams. He matriculated at East Stroudsburg University (Pa.), where he played tight end and had 24 catches and 343 yards in his career for the Warriors. After coaching one season at Patterson Mill, he joined Meade coach Rich Holzer's staff as a position coach, earning a promotion to offensive coordinator last fall.
"He was my first hire when I took over at Meade," Holzer said. "He came in and coached the wide receivers and defensive backs and took over the offense last year. He tweaked some things to attack defenses and our offense was more efficient, with less talent mind you, under him."
The Mustangs went 33-13 and won back-to-back Class 4A East Region titles during Bell's tenure. Last fall, Bell's offense averaged 37.3 points a game for the 7-3 Mustangs. He coached six offensive players that made the Capital Gazette's All-County teams, with running back Travis Chidebe (1,176 yards rushing and 12 total touchdowns) and guard Dominique Hudson earning first-team nods.
"I was able to see the work ethic that he consistently demonstrated, which is imperative when coming in and building a program," Severna Park Athletic Director Dave Lanham said. "His dedication, both in-season and out-of-season, is tremendous."
Lanham saw Bell's attributes first-hand while previously guiding the Mustangs' athletic programs, and the chance to work again for Lanham was definitely an attractive option for Bell.
"He was great for us at Meade," Lanham said. "He just does such a great job with the programs and the community and he really supports his coaching staffs."
As great as it will be to once again work under Lanham, the Severna Park position itself held a strong allure for Bell. This despite the team finishing just 3-7 and averaging 17 points a game last season.
"Severna Park has this great tradition both on the field and in the classroom," Bell said. "They have a community that is extremely supportive, and I want to be a part of, and contribute to that."
Having coached across the field from the Falcons the past four seasons, Holzer believes he has a good feel for what they need, and understands why Bell is a good fit.
"He is a young, energetic guy who will bring excitement to that program," Holzer said. "He will energize the fan base there because he relates well to the kids and he will get them and the parents excited. I think we will see a change in the culture, attitude and enthusiasm there. I am confident that he will do very well."
A Health and Physical Education teacher at MacArthur Middle School, Bell did a thorough job of beating the bushes to identify up-and-coming talent headed to Meade High School. He also "rearranged and reformed our weight training program," Holzer said. This involved utilizing resources that have grown in abundance over the years.
"If he does not know the answers, he has the resources to get what he needs," Holzer said."When coaches and players start talking and diagraming plays, he cannot write fast enough."
Bell, who is also engaged, is excited about his first chance running a team.
"I saw the talent there over the years, and the kids who played hard and wanted it badly," Bell said. "It starts in the weight room, and I think the kids are willing to come in and put the work in and do it. I just know this is something I am ready for."
Holzer has that bittersweet feeling that comes with seeing one of his own take over a competing program.
"You just hate losing a guy like that from your staff, but you know it will make the county better in the long haul," Holzer said. "He can knock the other guys out of the playoffs...just not us."