Noah Bell

Saluda senior Noah Bell poses Wednesday at Saluda High School.

SALUDA — Noah Bell couldn’t have asked for a better ending to his record-setting high school career at Saluda.

In his senior season, Bell led Saluda to its first state championship since 1963 and threw for 3,988 yards and 49 touchdowns in 15 games.

Now, after being an under-the-radar recruiting prospect for most of the season, Bell is headed to the next level.

Bell signed Wednesday with Wingate’s football program. Bell also had offers from Erskine, Newberry and Mars Hill but ultimately chose the school that made the first offer.

“I had my two biggest dreams come true all in one year,” Bell said. “I always dreamed about winning a state championship, and I always dreamed about playing in college. I’ve done them both now, and I just want to thank my teammates and coaches. None of this would have been possible without them.”

Bell said he’s already built a strong relationship with head coach Joe Reich and offensive coordinator Mike Long and is looking forward to playing in their system.

Wingate went 10-2 overall this past season and finished second to Lenoir-Rhyne in the South Atlantic Conference.

“There’s just something about Wingate, it’s special,” Bell said. “They’re a good football team and won a lot of games. I just like the way they go about doing things.”

Bell tallied 10,483 career yards and 135 touchdowns, which ranks third all-time in the state. During a Week 1 win against Ridge Spring-Monetta, Bell threw a school-record six touchdown passes all in the first half.

Saluda coach Stewart Young knows Bell’s production won’t be easy to replace.

“He started 53 straight games for us and didn’t lose much,” Young said. “He’s the best leader I’ve ever been around. We won’t ever have another one like him. We’re sure glad we had him. He’ll be just fine at Wingate. He’ll probably start for three or four years.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.