Dating back to his days at Garces High School, Tre Bell has always had a specific way of rewarding himself for great performances on the football field.
"Before every game, I always made a bet with my coach," Bell said. "I said 'For every three sacks I get, you've got to get me an Oreo milkshake.' So I've been going for three sacks ever since my freshman year."
Though he's yet to reach that mark at the college level, Bell's second game as a freshman defensive lineman at Bakersfield College suggests sweet rewards may be in his future.
In a 26-23 Week 2 loss to El Camino, Bell was virtually unblockable in the first half, recording three-and-a-half tackles for a loss and a sack.
At one point, Bell, who finished the game with eight tackles, didn't even need a helmet to bring down a ball carrier, as he tackled Warrior back Shawn Prejean after losing his lid in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the helmet-less play resulted in a personal foul against Bell, who said he was acting purely on instinct.
"I didn't know you couldn't do that," he said. "The dude was running the with ball. He didn't stop so I couldn't either."
Bell, who recorded 14 tackles for loss and six sacks in his senior season at Garces, is playing considerably lighter than in his prep days. Weighing in at over 290 pounds in high school, he's currently listed at 278.
"It's made me a little bit faster," he said of the weight loss. "Being that big, I was slower off the ball. It was easier to catch me. Now I've got a little more speed."
His improved athleticism has allowed BC defensive coordinator Tyler Thompson to adjust Bell's alignment, saying he's been able to make plays even when put into an off-balance position along the interior line. And with a big game already under his belt, coaches expect Bell's numbers will only improve in the coming weeks.
"Having games like that where you make plays in the backfield give a kid like him more confidence," Thompson said. "The fact that he did get some disruption, some penetration, that gives him some confidence that might help him get better as the season goes."
Bell has a good a chance to make more plays Saturday, when the Renegades face a Santa Monica team that had negative-2 yards rushing and allowed 11 tackles for loss in a 49-0 loss to Desert last Saturday.
If he reaches his goal of three sacks, Bell isn't planning to make changes to the postgame menu, even if it such a diet runs counter to his plan to play slimmer.
"Everyone's got to have a cheat day," he said.
While the Renegades, who rank 62nd out of 68 teams in yards gained in the CCCAA, have struggled in most areas offensively, problems have been particularly noticeable on third down, where they're just 2-for-32 through two games.
Just as worrisome, though, are the team's struggles at the start of drives. On third down, the offense has had an average of 9.5 yards to gain, while needing double-digit yardage to convert 17 of the 32 tries.
Things may not get easier against the Corsairs, who are eighth in the state in total defense and second against the pass, surrendering just 57 yards per game.