COLUMBIA — Bo Bell didn’t want to vaccinate cows. He didn’t want to feed horses. He didn’t want to bush hog his fields. He just wanted to sleep.
But he never did.
The Rock Bridge quarterback spent most of his childhood working on the family farm in Salem, Mo., and learned at an early age that even if he didn’t want to do something, he had to do it anyway.
“The stuff that you just absolutely hate,” Bell said, his words stinging with years of built up frustration. “Like you wake up in the morning and you’d just rather lay in bed, but you’ve got to go outside and get to work building a fence or messing with the cows or whatever.”
Even though he does not spend as much time on the farm during the season, the Rock Bridge senior’s ingrained work ethic pours directly into the football field. In his eyes, there’s always more work to be done.
“He’s mature. He’s just mature beyond his years,” coach A.J. Ofodile said. “He’s pretty unique in that he causes you to recreate your standards for him. He causes you to recreate what you think is normal.”
In his first year as a starter, Bell has led the Bruins to a 4-2 record and accumulated 919 passing yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions in the process.
Bell is still learning as a quarterback, even as the Bruins are preparing for their Homecoming game against Francis Howell on Friday night.
He’s had games where he’s performed to his capabilities and others that illustrate an evident struggle. But when things don’t go according to plan, Bell is surprisingly calm for a first-year starter. He’s used to improvising by now.
“Nothing ever goes right when you’re working on the farm. Whether it’s messing with cows, or trying to build fences,” Bell said. “Some barb wires always snap, some cow gets loose or someone gets hurt.”
He understands that sports bring just as many surprises.
“Not everything is going to go right all the time, and if you expect that, then you’re not going to perform well,” Bell said. “You’ve just got to know how to handle when bad things happen and be able to pick it up from there.”
Ofodile said Bell has done everything he’s been asked, and he praised him for his leadership abilities.
“You get spoiled a little bit with having a guy like him,” Ofodile said. “Sometimes as coaches, we might even put a little bit more on him than we need to because he’s so unique in how he handles things.
"He’s a special guy," he added.
But Bell doesn't see his values as special.
He gripes in a joking manner about his least favorite jobs on the farm, such as rounding up the cattle or vaccinating them. But the essential principle of hard work instilled during his childhood is something he would never take back.
“I think if I didn’t grow up on a farm, staying inside and not learning those values and principles, that could have definitely hurt me,” Bell said. "I got the opportunity, I guess, to grow up like that."
That upbringing has caused Bell to take his position seriously. He doesn't flaunt his title as quarterback or play to impress. He approaches every game like it's his job — his teammates harass him, playfully, for his lack of smiling.
"It's one of those things where, on the farm, there's really just not a lot of room for nonsense," Bo's father, Bob Bell, said. "The job has to get done, even if you're hurting or not feeling well."
That translates to football.
"Regardless of how good the other team is, or how injured some of the players may be, his job is to go out and win a football game," Bob Bell said.
As the Bruins prepare for Francis Howell, Bell continues his business-like approach.
Twenty minutes after the Bruin's three-hour practice is over, Bell remains on the field. As the sun sets, he walks off the practice field alone.
He slowly makes his way into the locker room, his cleats echoing on the pavement with each fatigued step and his dark hair crusted onto the top of his forehead.
There’s always more work to be done.