Thomas Bell, teen-age son of Claremore football coach Keith Bell, underwent surgery earlier this week and is in the intensive care unit of a Topeka, Kan., hospital.

Keith Bell is in Topeka and will not be on the sideline Friday night when his Zebras travel to Tulsa to take on Rogers in a District 5A-4 game.

“We don’t know when we’re going to come home,” coach Bell’s wife, Mary Ann, said Thursday night by telephone from Topeka.

“This is going to be a long road.”

Thomas Bell, who will turn 17 on Monday, collapsed during football practice at Topeka West High School on Tuesday.

He is a 5-9, 160-pound junior reserve on the team.

The Topeka Capital-Journal in its Thursday editions quoted Topeka West coach Warren Seitz: “We’re not for sure if it was from trauma or what it was. Obviously, it’s very serious.”

Seitz said that Thomas Bell “said he had a headache and went to the sideline and sat down.”

While being attended to, according to Seitz, Bell began vomiting and passed out.

He was taken to St. Francis Health Center in Topeka where surgery was performed Tuesday night.

He has remained in the intensive care unit.

“He’s not going to give up,” Mary Ann Bell said. “He’s a fighter. Just like his daddy.”

Keith Bell coached at Topeka High School two years ago, and moved to Oklahoma City Millwood for the 2005 season.

He was hired by Claremore in the spring of this year. When Keith Bell moved to Claremore in the summer to begin working with his new team, Thomas Bell joined him for about two weeks.

Thomas Bell lifted weights with the Zebra players and made several new friends.

“The outpouring of support from Claremore this week has been amazing,” Mary Ann Bell said.

“Everyone has been so understanding.

“We appreciate all of the kind words and prayers, all the telephone calls.

“We want to express our gratitude to everybody in Claremore, and all of Rogers County,” she said.