SHELBYVILLE — When Shelbyville senior Kentrell Beck is beginning his run, the 6-foot-3 quarterback surveys the field above the heads of his linemen and defenders, takes that second to calculate where to go and he's gone.
That remarkable vision of the field allowed Beck to score five touchdowns on the first five times he ran the ball against Cerro Gordo-Bement on Friday. Those five runs went for 60, 37, 38, 32 and 44 yards and in total, in his second start at quarterback for the Rams, he had 227 yards rushing.
This remarkable performance comes one week after a game against Seneca that could not have been more different. Beck was 3-for-13 passing for 43 yards and two interceptions and ran for a net of 15 yards and a touchdown as the Rams lost 38-7.
In Week 2, he put it upon himself to carry the team.
“That’s my goal every game to not be stopped. We came out with a bang tonight and were hard-headed,” Beck said. “I feel like we all just connected tonight and it all just clicked.”
Week 1’s game against Seneca was on the road on a Saturday afternoon and the feeling of the game was very different than the typical Friday.
“I don’t know what it was. Last week was a down week for everyone and we played on Saturday at midday and it just didn’t feel like the Friday night lights and I felt like the energy wasn’t there like it is in the night,” Beck said.
Shelbyville coach Bill Duckett agreed that the atmosphere was unusual, but many of Shelbyville’s problems were self-inflicted.
“It was a really odd game, being that far away and there was maybe 30 people in the stands. It was a weird feeling because if you play a Saturday game in the playoffs there are so many people,” he said. “It was silent and quiet and then we couldn’t establish anything and when we could we would shoot ourselves in the foot. We couldn’t get out of the hole.”
Duckett wanted the Rams to establish the run against CGB, eyeing a goal of 300 yards rushing that the Rams met and surpassed with 330 yards total.
“We really challenged these guys that last week wasn’t good enough and we had to improve and so now we see a big improvement from Week 1 to Week 2,” Duckett said. “We really jumped in and looked into the film of the Seneca game to see who got the job done and who didn’t, and we challenged them that it wasn’t good enough.”
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Last week’s performance wasn’t due to nerves for Beck.
“I had more nerves this week than I did last week, to be honest,” he said. “It might be that we had never played Seneca and we didn’t know what to expect.”
Beck’s statement-making performance came in essentially just one half of work. Towards the end of the first half, Beck took a hard hit from a Broncos defender and laid on the ground for a few seconds. Thoughts of a shoulder injury that forced Beck to lose his entire junior year sprang into the minds of Rams fans in the stands.
“My body is a little sore. The game takes a big toll on it. I had a cramp at that play,” Beck said. “I don’t really think about my past injuries on plays like that. I can kind of know when something is going to happen and I can judge it. I can get to a point where I know when I should protect it and how to fall.”
When asked if this was his top high school performance, another game jumps to Beck's mind, from his All-State sophomore year. In the second round of the 2017 Class 2A playoffs, Turner Pullen connected with Beck for 245 yards receiving and two touchdowns as the Rams defeated Downs Tri-Valley.
With Beck now under center and Pullen at McKendree University, Duckett sees the Rams’ passing game growing through the season.
“He hasn’t had a lot of reps at quarterback and he’s not a kid that has played it for four straight years like Turner did, or even our back up guy Max Beyers, who has played quarterback his whole life,” Duckett said. “It just takes time getting some reps. Kentrell has a great arm and he can throw the heck out of it and so with some more reps we can build on it.”
Returning to the playoffs is critical for Beck, who is looking to make up for some lost time and continue the offensive momentum when Clinton visits Shelbyville in Week 3.
“It was really important for us to win. Our goal is to get back to the playoffs this year and after last week we have to almost win out so we are trying our best,” he said. “Clinton just got off a bye week so they will be coming in ready to play and we have to get ready.”