The graduation of a three-year starting quarterback would be cause for concern for most football teams.

But the development of Trenton Kelly has Columbus North coaches excited about the prospects of another prolific offensive display this season.

“We have complete confidence in Trenton,” North coach Tim Bless said. “He’s gotten some varsity reps situationally in the past. But more importantly, he’s a varsity basketball player, so he’s played in prime-time environment before. Sports translate, and success in different venues translate and that’s why we love multi-sport athletes.”

Kelley was the junior varsity starter last season and was the varsity backup to Triston Perry last season. Kelley saw action mostly in mop-up duty and completed the only pass he threw.

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As he takes over the starting job, Kelley will benefit from an experienced group of receivers that includes Division I commits Tristan Bailey (Illinois State) and J.D. Harris (Northern Illinois) and last year’s top receiver, Jaylen Flemmons.

“We have a great system, freshman through varsity, and the freshman and JV levels really prepare us for the varsity level,” Kelley said. “I’ve been blessed this year to have a veteran group of wide receivers giving me time to develop, and our offensive line and coaching staff have just done a great job preparing me. They all know the plays, and a lot of the pressure that would be on a first-year quarterback of getting people in the right spot is not on me because we have such high IQ on the offensive side of the ball.”

At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Kelley is the prototypical pro-style dropback passer. But he has speed, as well.

Kelley completed 15 of 23 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns in Friday’s scrimmage at Greenwood.

“He has all the physical tools you would like as you draw up a quarterback,” Bless said. “But the the thing that sets Trenton apart is, he has great football IQ. He sees everything at the line of scrimmage and sees what’s coming defensively and either gets us in the right call or puts the ball in the right spot. He’s had a great camp, so we’re anxious to see what he does on Friday nights.”

Kelley is the third member of his family to play quarterback. His father Dennis grew up in Michigan and played at Rose-Hulman.

Older brother Mitchell was a quarterback for the Bull Dogs for parts of two seasons before moving to safety. He now is a sophomore defensive back at Rose-Hulman.

“He was a great mentor to me, and my dad was a quarterback, as well, back in the day, so I’ve grown up learning the quarterback position,” Trenton Kelley said. “Just watching (Mitchell) and seeing how calm he was, he’s really been a role model to me my whole life.”

Friday night, Kelley will get his first major test as a starting quarterback when North opens the regular season at Franklin. Technically, it won’t be his first start since he did take the first snap in last year’s win against Terre Haute North after Perry had been sick and missed a practice that week.

The Bull Dogs won their first seven games last season and finished 9-2.

“As a team, clearly, we’re trying to win every game and just improve until the tournament,” Kelley said. “It would be great to win a conference championship and a sectional championship. I think we as a team can get there, and we’re just excited to get playing football.”

Trenton Kelley

Name: Trenton Kelley

School: Columbus North

Year: Junior

Position: Quarterback

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 200

Sports: Football, basketball

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.