Belt's vision of the future keeps QB focused on field Football: Annapolis' offensive leader would like a crack at college sports, basketball or football. But mechanical engineering is why he really wants to be in classes again next fall.

October 16, 1998|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

When it comes to priorities, Annapolis quarterback Kyron Belt is a couple plays ahead of most student-athletes. His vision about what he wants to do with his life enables him to understand why education and the team come first.

"I'm definitely going to school, even if I don't get a chance to play sports, because I want to pursue a career in engineering, like my dad," said Belt, a senior. His father, Dana Keith Belt, is a mechanical engineer at Andrews Air Force Base.

"It would be a great experience to play, but I won't have any problem going to college just to get my education," added Belt, who has heard from a few small colleges.

Much of Annapolis' success this season as the Panthers (4-2 overall, 3-0 county class 4A league) go into tonight's showdown at Meade (3-3, 2-1) can be measured by Belt's rapid development in his first season as varsity quarterback.

Belt is following in the footsteps of Peter Ludlam, whose move from running back to quarterback in his senior year led the Panthers to the playoffs last year and a share of the county championship with Meade. For the last two seasons, Belt was one of the backs and at safety a key member of the Panthers' defense.

At the end of last season, Belt thought he might be this year's quarterback, because as a freshman he was the JV backup, although he spent most of his time running the ball and playing defense.

Sure enough, coach Roy Brown gave him the news.

"It seems like we need a quarterback every year, but I know we have enough athletes in our program that somebody will step up," said Brown. "Kyron is our best all-around athlete, so he was the likely choice, and he's getting better every game."

Belt gladly accepted the challenge, because he knew it "would be best for our team." The transition has been no sweat for the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Belt, who began his football career as an 8-year-old on the Police Athletic League's 75-pound team.

"It hasn't been difficult at all, because you know what's going on as a running back," said Belt, who was a back in Annapolis' run-oriented offense, as well as a defensive player the last two seasons. "I started practicing for this right after last season. It doesn't matter to me whether I run or throw, just as long as we win."

Belt ran for two touchdowns in last week's 21-0 romp over North County, a run-and-shoot team that throws as many times in a half as Belt has completions.

But like Ludlam last fall, Belt has a high percentage -- half -- of touchdown passes compared to completions. He's tied for the county lead with nine -- out of only 18 completed passes in 41 attempts for 439 yards. Old Mill's Craig Hall also has nine touchdown passes but has thrown 106 times.

"I'm definitely more comfortable throwing the ball," said Belt, who has been intercepted three times. "It's like second nature now."

With Belt, a 4.5-second runner, at the controls and running the option occasionally, the Panthers have a triple-threat backfield. He, junior Rayvon Johnson (1,019 yards, 10 touchdowns), and sophomore Reynardo Young are capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.

"Our triple-threat balances out the defense, and they have to beware of all the different angles [from which] we can hurt them," said Belt. "They can't key on one guy."

Defensively, Belt has made three interceptions in his third season as a starter in the secondary. If the opponent has a big-play receiver, Belt draws the assignment.

"I love playing defense," said Belt, who felt the Panthers' defensive unit put it all together in shutting out North County. "Our line clicked, and our secondary limited the long balls. We meshed together well, and, hopefully, we can keep it up and make the playoffs again."

After football season, Belt will return to the basketball court for his third varsity season. He also wants to be a distance runner in track next spring.

His athleticism and hunger for the big games showed in basketball last winter in the Class 4A state semifinals at College Park. In a 70-64 loss to eventual state-champion Gaithersburg, Belt hit four of seven shots and scored 11 points for the Panthers, who started only one senior.

"I wouldn't mind playing football and basketball in college," Belt said, "but like I said, my main goal is my education so I can become a mechanical engineer."

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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