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July 16, 2024

Northside Star Shining Bright

Bell working hard heading into senior year

By Andy Collier, The Bolivar Bullet

Northside High School’s Jermarji Bell has been a player that has made a major impact for the Gators in every facet of the game in football. 

Last season, Bell, who’s top positions are wide receiver, safety and kickoff/punt return specialist, caught 56 passes for 981 yards with 12 touchdowns, ran for two touchdowns, returned two punts for touchdowns and recorded 38 tackles on defense with four pass break-ups. His production enabled the Gators to go 9-3 with a trip to second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association 2A State Football Playoffs. 

In the spring game against 5A Gentry High School at the Delta Touchdown Club Super Clash Football Jamboree last month, Bell caught two touchdowns and recorded an interception on defense. 

So far Bell has gotten 19 offers which include Division I schools Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio, and East Tennessee State in Johnsonville City, Tenn. He also got offers from Division II Florida Central Tech, Division III University of Olivet in Olivet, Mich., and NAIA’s Central Methodist University, Kentucky Christian College and MidAmerican Nazarene University. He has gotten several offers from junior colleges.

“The recruiting process has been going well,” said Bell. “I’m making a decision soon.”

Bell showcased his skills last week at a camp at Mississippi State University in Starkville. 

The Gators’ star has only just begun his work for the summer.  

“Summer has been great,” said Bell. “I’m just working on my craft. I’m going to try to hit almost every camp that I’m able to get to.”

Northside Head Football Coach Montrelli Finley said the player that stands 5-foot-7, 146 pounds does what it takes to get the job done. 

“He’s an awesome kid,” said Finley. “He’s not selfish when it comes to getting on the field. You can put him at safety, and you can put him at corner back. I’m pretty sure he can probably cover the earth. He’ll say, ‘Coach, put me wherever.’ He’s not selfish in that respect. 

“He’s that type you want to get the ball in his hands. He wants the ball, but we have to spread the ball around a little bit more. Last year, we got the ball to him a lot early. Then, teams started putting three or four people on him. So he does understand we have to spread the ball around a little bit more.”

Finley said Bell has the right mindset for football. 

“When he’s on the field, he’s not scared of anything or anybody,” said Finley. “When he’s on the field, he attacks everything in his location.”

Northside has one of the best 2A programs in the state. Ever since the school was formed from the merger of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Mound Bayou and Broad Street High School in Shelby, the Gators have had winning seasons in all six years with five playoffs appearances, two region championships and a 2A North Half Crown. The only title that has eluded Northside is the state championship. The Gators went to the 2A State Title game in 2019 but lost to Taylorsville 49-18. 

Bell would love to bring that state championship back to Shelby. 

“I’m not going to lie,” said Bell. “It’s been on my mind everyday. I promised my team and coach we will get one before the 2025 class leaves. I feel like we definitely got a fantastic team.”

Northside will officially open the 2024 football season on Aug. 30 when the Gators hit the road to Greenville to play 5A Greenville High School.