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High School Sports

Football preview: Running back Anthony Spearman III ready for second chance

Anthony Spearman III
Junior running back Anthony Spearman III was a big contributor last season until an ankle injury sidelined him.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Anthony Spearman III was in the Sherman Oaks Notre Dame cafeteria pouring a container of powdered Kool-Aid into a giant jug of water to mix for campers on a hot July afternoon.

“I make the best Kool-Aid. That’s all I’m saying,” he said as purple powder floated into the air while he was smiling with earbuds dangling.

For four weeks this summer, he was a camp counselor/cafeteria worker. His favorite moment was always playing with the kids.

“I always told my parents, ’I want a little brother.’ Now I have a ton.”

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Those campers should have asked for an autograph, because Spearman projects as a running back to watch this season even though most don’t know what he’s capable of accomplishing on a football field. Last season as a sophomore, he was a featured running back with Christian Grubb, one of the fastest players in the state who ended up signing with UCLA.

In Spearman’s second game of the season, he rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns in nine carries against Moorpark. He had five touchdowns in his first six games. Then he sustained a high ankle sprain against Lake Balboa Birmingham. He pretty much disappeared and was never the same.

“I just feel there’s a chip on my shoulder because I didn’t get a lot of credit for what happened last year because I was out most of the year,” he said. “I feel I’ve improved.”

Faster, stronger and more confident, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Spearman is poised for an impact season. Most importantly, he’s healthy.

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Sherman Oaks Notre Dame running back is ready for 2019 season

“We think he’s going to be an outstanding player,” coach Kevin Rooney said. “He’s got quickness, balance, strength, great hands.”

His size allows him to break tackles and run over smaller defenders, but he prefers to “make people look stupid than take a hit.”

At 16, Spearman has already faced the toughest adversity any teenager can encounter — the loss of a parent.

Spearman’s mother, Kathy, died last April at age 41. She had a heart attack after battling diabetes.

“It’s still tough, honestly,” he said. “She was my biggest cheerleader. She’d be at every game. She’d be at practice sometimes. She’d be the mom cheering, no matter what. She was the one voice I could always hear.”

A look at some of the top high school football players at each position in the Southland for the upcoming 2019 season.

Spearman remembers the time his mother tried to protect him during his youth football days.

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“Ask anyone, she was the feisty one,” he said. “I was 10, 11. It was a playoff game. They were a dirty team and I remember seeing my mom walk down from the stands yelling at the other side’s coach and you could see my dad trying to hold her back. This little 5-1 lady yelling at this big 6-2 coach.”

Every time Spearman steps onto the field this season, he intends to honor his mom.

“It’s going to be tough not hearing her on the drive home and the drive to school in the morning,” he said. “Football has definitely helped me cope.”

He added, “She’s my guardian angel now.”

Top running backs

Player, School | Ht. | Wt. | Yr. | Comment

Eddie Allain, Norte Vista | 5-10 | 170 | So. | Rushed for 1,550 yards, 23 TDs as a freshman

Kevin Armstead, St. Francis | 5-7 | 185 | Sr. | Rushed for 1,097 yards last season

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Amir Bankhead, Paraclete | 5-9 | 180 | Jr. | Back from injury after gaining 1,311 yards in 2017

Davon Booth, El Monte | 5-8 | 165 | Sr. | Rushed for 2,429 yards, 31 TDs

PJ Garcia, Garfield | 5-6 | 170 | Sr. | Had nine games rushing for more than 100 yards

Nathaniel Jones, St. John Bosco | 5-11 | 190 | Sr. | UCLA commit is back from injury

Jyden King, Calabasas | 6-1 | 205 | Sr. | A Washington State commit with size

Damien Moore, Bishop Amat | 5-10 | 190 | Sr. | Cal commit back from injury after great sophomore year

Anthony Spearman III, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame | 5-10 | 195 | Jr. | He’s healthy and ready to roll

Chris Street, JSerra | 5-11 | 205 | Sr. | Cal commit rushed for 1,342 yards, 17 touchdowns

Jakai Torres, St. Bernard | 5-11 | 190 | Sr. | Rushed for 1,770 yards, 24 touchdowns


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