Marvell Tell is one of the nation’s premier prospects and the senior from Encino Crespi proved as much on Friday night in a first-round playoff game against Santa Margarita in the Southern Section’s Pac-5 Division.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound safety played well on the defensive side of the ball. And that was expected. His contributions on offense, however, proved to be one of the deciding factors in an impressive 45-13 victory over the visiting Eagles.
“I guess you can say that I have a target on my back, people know my name. But this thing is bigger. It’s not about me. It’s about the team,” Tell said. “I’ve learned to stay away from distractions, stay focused on the field and grind.”
Tell, along with teammates T.J. Brumfield, D.J. Beavers and Jalen Starks, helped the Celts (9-1) gain 385 yards on the ground, 252 in the first half, and build what proved to be an insurmountable 31-13 lead at halftime against the Eagles (6-5).
“We know what our strength is, every team does, but opponents can’t do anything about it, stopping our running game is not an easy thing to do,” said Tell, who carried the ball from time to time and picked up a couple of crucial first downs.
With Tell essentially serving as the last line of defense, K.J. Costello struggled for the Eagles. The junior quarterback had trouble making any consistent connection with his top two wide receivers, Kyle Sweet and Conner Bianchini.
Tell, of course, was responsible for the frustrations of Costello & Co. He deflected several passes in the first half. To essentially seal the victory, Tell tipped a ball in the second half and Anthonie Doxie’s made the interception.
That said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn Tell has more than 20 scholarship offers in place, including interest from Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Oregon. UCLA and USC are also in the mix with offers.
Still, a decision about his future does not figure to happen soon. He plans to take his time with the recruiting process. The focus of Tell, one best in the business on the prep circuit, is on the postseason. Similar to how it was Friday night.
Sean Ceglinsky has covered sports in the Southland for the better part of the past 15-plus years. Follow him on Twitter: @SeanCeglinsky