A shining star

Brandon Spatz is re­ceiv­ing the all-star treat­ment. The Fath­er Judge wide re­ceiv­er was in­vited to Foot­ball Uni­versity‚Äôs Top Gun All-Star Camp in Vir­gin­ia.

Fath­er Judge foot­ball play­er Brandon Spatz made varsity as a sopho­more with his ex­cep­tion­al play on both sides of the ball. Al­though he saw lim­ited time with the varsity squad, he plans to start for the Cru­saders this year, and his trip last week to Foot­ball Uni­versity’s Top Gun foot­ball camp in Wil­li­ams­burg, Va., will only help his case.

The Top Gun foot­ball camp is an all-star camp for 1,000 of the best prep ath­letes from across the coun­try. With the ath­letes trained by cur­rent and former NFL play­ers and coaches, Top Gun is re­garded as the na­tion’s most pres­ti­gi­ous foot­ball camp, boast­ing some of the best col­lege re­cruits in re­cent years.

The play­ers were chosen be­cause of out­stand­ing per­form­ances at their loc­al Foot­ball Uni­versity camp, a pro­gram that vis­its cit­ies across the coun­try to help de­vel­op and en­hance the play­mak­ing abil­ity and skill of elite-level ath­letes in sixth to 11th grade. 

So why was Spatz chosen for a camp led by train­ers “who have privately trained and ment­ored play­ers such as Drew Brees, Matt Ry­an, Eli Man­ning and Tony Romo,” ac­cord­ing to a Top Gun press re­lease. 

His sopho­more-year num­bers do all the talk­ing.

As a JV starter, Spatz was un­stop­pable while dom­in­at­ing on both sides of the ball as a wide re­ceiv­er, run­ning back and in­side line­back­er. In just nine games, Spatz led the team in re­ceiv­ing yards and touch­downs, post­ing 18 re­cep­tions for 543 yards, good for an av­er­age of 30.4 yards per catch and 10 touch­downs.  

On spe­cial teams, Spatz re­turned 13 kicks for an av­er­age of 14.3 yards per re­turn. His pres­ence also was feared at line­back­er — he in­ter­cep­ted three passes: one re­turned for 75 yards and a touch­down, one for 22 yards and a touch­down, and one for 64 yards and al­most a touch­down — his run­back ended three yards short of the goal line.

Al­though Spatz has proved his ver­sat­il­ity, his mind is set on of­fense at the mo­ment.

“I’m go­ing to the camp for wide re­ceiv­er,” said Spatz. “It’s my fa­vor­ite po­s­i­tion and what I’m best at.”

Fath­er Judge varsity fin­ished 8-3 over­all be­fore los­ing to LaS­alle in the AAAA semi­finals. Al­though los­ing some key play­makers to gradu­ation, such as Nick My­ers, John Dono­hoe and Con­nor Thompson, lead­ing rush­er Raul Quinones and lead­ing re­ceiv­er John Land­is will be back. Spatz hopes to join the new wave of lead­ers and make an im­pact.

“My goals are to suc­ceed on varsity but to also be All-Cath­ol­ic,” said Spatz. “We have the po­ten­tial to make the play­offs again. We lost some starters, but we had a couple ju­ni­ors go All-Cath­ol­ic last year, so we’re still look­ing pretty good.”

Spatz’s foot­ball ca­reer pred­ates his days at Fath­er Judge. He played most of his ca­reer with the Holmes­burg Boys Club un­der coach Tom Gontz, who fondly re­mem­bers Spatz.

“Brandon is very phys­ic­ally gif­ted,” Gontz said. “He was al­ways strong, lean and ath­let­ic. He played line like a lot of kids do early on, but as time went on, we real­ized he’s go­ing to be a really skilled po­s­i­tion play­er, so we wanted to put him where he’d play in high school.

ldquo;He played tight end really well for us, as well as de­fens­ive back,” Gontz ad­ded. “He played in the Un­lim­ited League, where we played teams up and down the East Coast, and was one of our best play­ers.”

Al­though Spatz prefers play­ing of­fense over de­fense, his coaches, past and present, see him as a de­fens­ive play­er. 

“I think he’s go­ing to be more along the lines of a strong safety,” Gontz said of Spatz’s fu­ture. “I know they have him in the middle now, but when he gets to col­lege, I see him more as a safety. He was a really good re­ceiv­er for us, but as a coach, you look at a play­er and can kind of see what they will be. But his work eth­ic is strong. Some of the kids get on him for how hard he works. I think he’ll be able to ex­cel at any po­s­i­tion.”

Fath­er Judge head coach Tom Coyle is more of a de­fense-minded coach.

“Coach Coyle likes me at line­back­er,” said Spatz. “He likes de­fense a lot, and I like be­ing back there a lot too.”

One of Foot­ball Uni­versity’s many goals is to pre­pare play­ers to play at the col­legi­ate level. To achieve just that, Foot­ball Uni­versity has the best com­pete against the best so that col­lege re­cruit­ers can bet­ter gauge the caliber of tal­ent.

As Foot­bal­lUni­versity.com puts it: “Fair or not, the tal­ent in dif­fer­ent states and dif­fer­ent di­vi­sions/groups with­in states is per­ceived dif­fer­ently, just as a 280-pound of­fens­ive line­man dom­in­at­ing a 160-pound de­fens­ive line­man is per­ceived dif­fer­ently than one fa­cing com­pet­i­tion of his own size. To ac­count for this, we en­cour­age and pre­pare ath­letes to do just what they came to FBU to do: com­pete against the best.”

Spatz, who hopes to play in col­lege, was in good hands in Vir­gin­ia.

“I haven’t looked at any spe­cif­ic col­leges yet,” he said, “but I’m really hop­ing to play in Di­vi­sion I.” 

Ac­cord­ing to Gontz, Spatz’s work eth­ic shows he ready for the fu­ture.

“He’s fo­cused, he’s ser­i­ous about his workouts, and he does everything he’s sup­posed to do to head in the right dir­ec­tion,” said Gontz. “And I know his fam­ily is be­hind him all the way.” ••

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