Lezlie Sterling lsterling@sacbee.com Sacramento State coach Marshall Sperbeck keeps especially close tabs on one prep quarterback: his son Thomas of Jesuit.

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Hometown Report: Football season brings Sperbecks joy, suspense

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:06 pm

Modern technology only adds to the anxiety for fanatical football families.

Take the Sperbeck clan.

On Friday night, Thomas Sperbeck led Jesuit High School past El Camino 33-26 by accounting for four touchdowns. The senior won it on an eight-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left.

Sacramento State coach Marshall Sperbeck, more than 850 miles away in Boulder, Colo., planning for Saturday's game against 21-point favorite Colorado, kept tabs via texts.

What yard line? How's the kid doing?

Thomas ran for 173 yards and passed for 232 against a defense designed to stop him and also played safety. On Saturday, with his body feeling the wear of an every-down effort, Thomas and his mother, Kelle, huddled at home to follow the Hornets' game. Resembling a family from the 1950s, they relied on the radio call from Jason Ross. They hung on every word, gnawing on fingernails right down to Edgar Castaneda's field goal with no time left that gave the Hornets a 30-28 victory.

Not only did Sac State get the upset, the program was paid $450,000 to take the game.

"Pretty crazy weekend," Thomas said. "Mom and I were pacing a lot. Football is fun for our family, but it's pretty nerve-wracking."

Father and son have a unique relationship, and they refuse to let football consume them at home. They occasionally go over film together, both Jesuit and Sac State action. Both offer critiques. "Nice technique and form there, son," or, "Hey, nice call there, dad – a touchdown."

"We talk a lot of father-son stuff beyond football," Thomas said. "Football-wise, it's cool having a football coach as a dad. You learn a lot."

Ever hear of Marshall Sperbeck the player?

"I've heard a lot of stories about how good my dad was in high school, but I haven't seen any film," Thomas said.

The film does not lie. Marshall Sperbeck set regional passing records in 1977 at Valley, a new program that went 5-5. He then played at Nevada and followed the path of his father, Dick, and became a coach.

Marshall, still trim and fit at 6-foot-3, said his 6-foot son is much more elusive than he ever was.

"Oh, Thomas is a much better athlete than I was in high school, and smarter, too," Marshall Sperbeck said. "I was a PE-rec major in college. Thomas may study math or science in college."

But where will Thomas go to college?

Marshall has vowed to go after the best California players he can for the Hornets, but he isn't recruiting the best athlete at his dinner table. His son pulls for the Hornets every week, but he won't be pulling on a Sac State helmet.

"It's hard enough to be a college coach, and to have him in the same locker room would be hard on both of us" coach Sperbeck said.

Thomas agreed: "Playing for Dad would be a lot of fun, but we know it wouldn't be easy."

Thomas has a scholarship offer from San Jose State to play wide receiver. He also has an invite from Army to play quarterback – and serve his country.

For now, the juggling act continues.

This Saturday, after the Hornets host Northern Colorado, Marshall will hustle over to Hughes Stadium to watch Jesuit take on Christian Brothers in the Holy Bowl.

Meanwhile, Mom will try to enjoy the day while untying the knots in her stomach.

"Kelle looks relaxed on the outside," Marshall said, "but she's dying internally. She's a typical football coach's wife and mom."


PR – Previous ranking

School W-L PR

1. Elk Grove 3-0 1

2. Franklin 3-0 3

3. Pleasant Grove 2-1 4

4. Nevada Union 2-1 2

5. Del Oro 0-2 5

6. Granite Bay 0-2 6

7. Burbank 2-0 11

8. Placer 2-0 8

9. Folsom 3-0 9

10. Oak Ridge 3-0 10

11. Grant 1-2 7

12. Cosumnes Oaks 3-0 12

13. Inderkum 2-0 14

14. Del Campo 1-2 13

15. Jesuit 2-0 17

16. Christian Bros. 3-0 20

17. Rio Linda 2-0 –

18. Antelope 2-1 15

19. Monterey Trail 1-1 16

20. El Camino 2-1 19

– Joe Davidson



Liberty Ranch at Gregori-Modesto

Mesa Verde at El Camino


Antelope at Woodcreek

Bella Vista at Yuba City

Brookside Christian at Rio Vista

Burbank at Del Oro

Casa Roble at Placer

Chico at Nevada Union

Cristo Rey at San Juan

Deer Valley at Folsom

Dixon at Winters

El Dorado at Golden Sierra

Elk Grove at Sheldon

Florin at Monterey Trail

Foothill at Rio Linda

Franklin at Cosumnes Oaks

Galt at Tokay

Grant at Oak Ridge

Highlands at Bear River

Johnson at Cordova

Lindhurst at Mira Loma

McClatchy at Capital Christian

Natomas at Center

Oakmont at Roseville

Pleasant Grove at Inderkum

River Valley at Marysville

Rosemont vs. Laguna Creek at Elk Grove High

Rocklin at Del Campo

Sacramento at River City

Union Mine at Ponderosa

Vacaville at Granite Bay

Valley vs. Pioneer at Cosumnes River College

Valley Christian at Delta

Vista del Lago at Bradshaw Christian

Wheatland at Lincoln

Woodland at Colfax

Woodland Christian at Foresthill


Davis at Rio Americano, 1 p.m.

Elliot Christian at Encina, 6 p.m.

Jesuit vs. CBS at Sacramento City, 7 p.m.

Vacaville Christian at Millennium, 7 p.m.


Pleasant Grove at Inderkum on Friday night will be broadcast live on Access Sacramento (Ch. 17 on Comcast and SureWest, Ch. 99 on AT&T)

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