Inderkum QB Excels On Field, In Life

Inderkum junior quarterback C.J. Spencer has accounted for 20 touchdowns this season.
Photo by Terrance Leonard.

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

It was a game-changing play:

C.J. Spencer threw a 77-yard strike to Khalil Hudson to set up a go-ahead touchdown with eight seconds left in the first half, giving Inderkum a 14-10 lead over Manteca in last week’s first-round playoff.

The home crowd came alive, shaking the stands at Inderkum Stadium all the way up to announcer’s box.

It’s plays like this – and 16-year-old Spencer’s progression as an offensive leader – that have caught the attention of recruiters from Boise State University, Washington State University and Northern Arizona University.

“I have been working hard with the team to get better,” said Spencer, named today as the Tri-County Conference All-Conference quarterback for 2012-13. “I started out practicing with the varsity team last year during playoffs, so that helped.”

Spencer, the junior quarterback for the No. 6 seed Division III Inderkum High School in Natomas, lives with his single mother Margit and younger sister, 7-year-old Makiya.

“I have very high expectations,” Margit said. “He has always been very responsible.” 
Spencer – running in the run-first wing-T offense that has become the staple of success for Inderkum head coach Terry Stark – threw for 1,178 yards and 14 touchdowns this season with just five interceptions, while completing 61.6 percent of his passes in the regular season. He’s also rushed for 202 yards and another six touchdowns.

The Tigers will travel to Sierra High School in Manteca Friday, Nov. 16 for the second round D-III playoff game.

In a run-heavy offense, the Inderkum coaching staff has instilled plays geared around the throwing strength of Spencer.

“Before we could run all over guys,” Stark said. “On play action pass (Spencer) will throw it right over them for a touchdown because teams would bite on the run.”

The Tigers are in the second round for a seventh straight season, and this is exactly the position Spencer wanted to be in. Winning and leading. 
“I wanted to play since I was four,” Spencer recalled. “I started off playing soccer, which is probably why I kick so well.”

Spencer is also the primary kicker for the Tigers, and in an age of two-point conversions, Inderkum kicks extra points with startling accuracy for a high school team.

At first, Margit wasn’t ready to let Spencer play football. But when the family moved to Berkeley, Spencer found the gridiron during the off season from soccer. When the family moved to Natomas, they ran into Terrance Leonard.

“I’ve coached C.J. ever since he was 11-year-old,” Leonard said. “C.J. is very coachable and he works hard.”

Despite the generation gap between coach and player, Leonard said he enjoys talking with Spencer.

“It’s his football IQ and really, it’s his life IQ,” Leonard said. “We connected not just on a football level, but I can have a conversation with him. And he can have one with me.”

Spencer and his mom, hopeful he has a future playing football, have tapped Leonard’s insight to seek scholarships meant to get him into college as well as on the collegiate football field. Spencer, who holds a 3.5 GPA, wants to major in sports medicine and become a sports doctor because he “loves sports.”

Leonard has helped Spencer signup for football camps in the off season and prepared recruiting videos sent to West Coast schools including Pacific-12 programs like Arizona State and Cal. Spencer recently took an unofficial trip to Cal, but knows the whirlwind of recruiting will slow once this football season ends. 
His head coach seems content when looking forward to the future of his young star.

“I think he is a college quarterback, no doubt,” Stark said. “He has an excellent arm and is really a bright, great student. He is a student of the game. He works out in the locker room extremely hard and I am looking forward to all of the games he is going to play this year and next year.”

Whether it’s on the football field, in the classroom or at home helping mom with little sister Makiya, Spencer has one mindset:
“I just want to be successful.”

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