At 5-feet 5-inches and 150 pounds, Jeff Bell of Anaheim High School hasn't always been treated like a giant on the football field. It hasn't bothered Bell, though. He enjoys his status as an underdog.
"I love going against the big guys," said Bell, a senior linebacker. "I may be the smallest, but I try to be the toughest."
Bell, The Times' Player of the Week, helped the Colonists shut out La Habra last Friday, 19-0, in the Southern Section Central Conference quarterfinals in Glover Stadium.
In the first half, Bell intercepted a pass at La Habra's 30-yard line and returned it 15 yards to set up Anaheim's first touchdown. Late in the third quarter, Bell recovered a fumble on La Habra's 34-yard line. That set up the Colonists' next touchdown.
Bell said that he uses his height to outwit his opponents.
"Most guys think they're going to squash me," Bell said. "But they don't realize that I'm quicker than they are, and they don't think I can hit as hard, until it's too late."
Former Colonist strong safety John Garabedian, who now attends Fullerton College, remembers a tackle Bell made earlier this season against Keef Leasure, a 5-10, 180-pound fullback from Valencia.
"It was an all-out open field tackle," Garabedian said. "Jeff took after the guy and just leveled him. Leasure's huge and Jeff just broke the man. He does stuff like that a lot, but he never thinks it's a big deal."
Anaheim Coach Roger Stahlhut agrees that Bell's size hasn't limited his performance.
"It's his big heart, that's what makes up for his size," Stahlhut said. "He's the team motivator. He really illustrates an example for the others. He gives the team every ounce that he has."
That's 2,400 ounces to be exact--which might be a small sacrifice for Bell, who wants nothing more in his Christmas stocking than a Southern Section championship patch. That will take more than just a letter to Santa, of course. Anaheim needs to win two more games, including Friday's semifinal against Bolsa Grande.
"I can't wait," Bell said. "This is what I like best. When you get to CIF you get to play the big guys."