Offensive linemen, despite their size, usually toil in the shadow of smaller players. Glory seems to pass them by, settling instead on the shoulder pads of the players they protect, and for whom they open running lanes.
Then again, Spencer Stark is not your average lineman.
The 6-foot-2, 325-pound Central Catholic senior was named the Division 4 state Player of the Year by MaxPreps.com. He’s is one of six CC players to make the D4 all-state squad and one of 14 players from the Stanislaus District.
“It was definitely a surprise,” said Stark. “I wasn’t expecting it. Usually, an award like that goes to a skill player.”
Stark was the anchor of an offensive line that opened holes for running back Matt Ringer, also a D4 all-state first-teamer who rushed for 2,348 yards and 34 touchdowns. And that production was a big reason the Raiders captured a second consecutive state championship.
“It took all five of us up front to make those 2,000 yards possible,” said Stark, who as a junior opened holes for Ray Lomas (2,084 yards) and Rey Vega (1,524). “It definitely was not all me.”
The highly sought-after Stark was not part of the mad rush of players to put pen to paper on National Signing Day. A thoughtful young man who values education, Stark is unsure if he wants to continue playing collegiately.
“I’m not going to get to the NFL,” said Stark. “And that’s not my goal. My goal is to be a psychiatrist. I’m just really into the mind and how people think, and I want to help people.”
There was some speculation that Stark, who played an NFL-like 32 games over the past two seasons, had grown tired of the sport.
“Yeah, I played a lot the past two years, but it’s not that I’m burned out,” said Stark. “I want to do pre-med and I don’t know if I could balance a full-time commitment in football and studying.”
Other first-teamers from Central Catholic include kicker Kenny Smart and linebacker Reggie Bland. Ripon Christian RB Andrew Brown (2,781 yards, 55 TDs), Le Grand RB Ryan Martinez (2,010, 34) joined them on the first team.
Central Catholic defensive lineman Travis Gist and defensive back Jared Rice (7 interceptions) were second-team selections, joined by Modesto Christian OL Kory Mora, Ripon Christian DL Will Kamps (20½ sacks), and Le Grand DB Christian Williams.
Central Valley RB Ja’Quan Gardner (2,467, 27), The Bee’s 2013 Player of the Year, Manteca DL Billy Sharmoug were tabbed to the state’s Division 2 first team, while Manteca RB Alex Laurel (1,876, 49) was named to the second-team D2 offense.