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SOUTHERN SECTION PREVIEW : He's a Mean, Not-So-Lean Eating Machine : El Toro Prep Tackle Standout Has a Program to Top Topsy

September 10, 1986|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | Times Staff Writer

Those who have seemingly tried every diet there is, who have sacrificed eating their favorite foods, who have counted every last calorie, will have no stomach for Scott Spalding's problem.

Here's a 17-year-old football player from El Toro High School who is 6 foot, 5 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds and wants to get bigger . So, he eats virtually every waking hour, hoping to take in more calories than he burns off.

No celery sticks and skim milk for this guy. Spalding, who was named by USA Today as one of the top 25 high school football players in the nation, eats anything he wants--steak, potatoes, lasagna, ice cream, candy bars, peanut butter--any time he wants.

And he has the nerve to complain.

"It's hard to eat a lot," Spalding said. "I get tired of eating. Sometimes, I'd just like to not worry about having to keep my weight up."

Poor Scott. Weight watchers everywhere are probably crying in their cottage cheese.

Spalding isn't one of those legendary eaters--the behemoth who can power down nine plates of beef ribs and a few pounds of french fries in one sitting. He just rarely stops eating.

"He'll come up to practice with a Snickers bar hanging out of his mouth and a bag of chips in his pants," Charger Coach Bob Johnson said.

Spalding has an answer for that. "Hey, it's a long walk to the practice field," he said.

About two weeks ago, before the team left for its game against Whitehall High in Pennsylvania, Spalding's father, Marty, who is El Toro's line coach, took Scott out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

"I promise you that, sitting down, I ate more Chinese food than he did that night," Marty said. "But from the restaurant to home is a 10-minute drive, and when we got home, he made two sandwiches and something else."

Spalding tries to eat something before he goes to bed every night. Usually, it's a peanut butter and honey sandwich with about half an inch of peanut butter. "That has mega-calories," Spalding said. "It bulks you up real fast."

It can cover you up real fast, too. One night last year, he fell asleep with sandwich in hand and woke up the next morning with peanut butter all over him.

Spalding adopted the continuous feeding diet at the beginning of his sophomore year when he decided that, to be a good lineman, he had to put on some weight.

He also began a strenuous weight-training program, spending two hours a day, five days a week in the weight room. During the season, he lifts three days a week, an hour a day.

He gained 50 pounds in one year, going from a 6-3, 185-pound sophomore to a 6-5, 235-pound junior. He emerged as one of Orange County's top linemen last year, and, after helping the Chargers advance to the Southern Conference semifinals, was a first-team selection on The Times' All-County team.

He's 15 pounds heavier and even stronger this year, which is why Street and Smith magazine named him to its preseason high school All-American team. He's not the fastest linemen around, but he has excellent lateral movement, technique, and is very strong.

Spalding has attracted the attention of most major colleges in the country. Recruiters from Penn State and Notre Dame watched him play in the Chargers' 20-19 win over Whitehall last week. He plays both offensive and defensive tackle, but Johnson feels he'll be recruited as a defensive player.

The fact that Spalding is even being recruited is a bit of a surprise, considering he never played a down of tackle football before high school. Marty Spalding, who was the head coach at Canyon High of Saugus for six years before moving to El Toro in 1977, didn't want Scott to play Pop Warner football.

"It wasn't a matter of Pop Warner not doing him any good," Marty said. "I think the coaching there is serious and well-intended. I'm telling you, Scott was just a skinny kid."

Instead, Scott played flag football in junior high and and spent time as a ball boy at El Toro's practices. But once he got into pads, he was an immediate success.

He has started both ways on every level of the Chargers' program. Heading into his senior season, he is being touted as one of the nation's best linemen and should have his share of college scholarship offers to choose from.

All that is far from his mind, though.

"I just want to play this year and see what materializes," he said. "I'm not going home at night and thinking about where I'm going to college. I'm thinking about playing football."

And his next meal.

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