NORTH AUGUSTA — A popular phrase often blares from the speakers of the Jackets Nest when North Augusta is set to return a punt.
“Get ready, because something’s about to happen,” the public address announcer says.
Perhaps no saying is more fitting when DeJuan Bell is lined up to receive the punt.
Bell, a lightning-fast receiver, defensive back and returner, was always a threat to make a play for North Augusta throughout his career. For his all-around efforts as a senior and guiding the Yellow Jackets to a notable season, Bell is The Augusta Chronicle’s All-Area South Carolina Player of the Year.
Perhaps no player in the area was more frightening to contend with for opposing teams than Bell. Also a track standout, he was usually the fastest player on the field and often the most talented with the ball, evident by the many positive comments from coaches and numerous highlight-reel plays that got fans on their feet.
As a senior and leader on a deep and talented North Augusta team, Bell recorded more than 800 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, picked up nine interceptions on defense and returned three kicks for scores. Opposing teams often tried to kick or throw away from him, but he always seemed to be around the ball.
His production helped guide North Augusta to a 10-0 regular season and brought a region championship back to the school. The end result wasn’t what the Yellow Jackets expected by falling in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs, but they left their mark on the program with the perfect regular season.
“We all came together, we played together as a family, and made North Augusta a new place now,” Bell said. “10-0 and win the region, it’s a new time for North Augusta. It felt good to have the fans come down to you and say how good you did. It felt good to be in that atmosphere.”
Bell’s production came to a head in the biggest game of the season, further evidence of his playmaking ability in big spots. He totaled three interceptions against South Aiken to help push North Augusta to a 21-7 victory that put the Yellow Jackets in the driver’s seat toward a region title.
It wasn’t even the first multi-interception game for Bell during the year. He notched three receiving touchdowns and two picks in a big win over Lexington in September that drew his second player of the week accolade from The Chronicle. The first was the 2016 season opener against Lakeside when he returned two picks for scores.
Since 10th grade we knew he was exciting with the football and was able to make plays,” North Augusta coach Brian Thomas said after the Lexington game. “He just had to get more consistent with making plays. DeJuan is very competitive. He wants to do well all the time, sometimes even to a fault. He came back and made plays like we knew he can and did a great job for us.”
Bell constantly made plays for North Augusta during his career and became a walking highlight reel. He leaves behind plenty of notable plays and games, while he plans to take a piece of North Augusta with him.
“We really just went out there to play and to win,” Bell said. “We wanted to get to state, but it didn’t happen, but we played for our city.It taught me a lot and I learned a lot from North Augusta. I really like this place. I really enjoyed playing football here.”