Sauk Rapids Rice QB Spencer Ackerman off to great start as varsity starter
Playing a varsity sports as a sophomore at a larger school is a rarity. Playing a position as important as starting quarterback and doing extremely well in your first season is an anomaly.
But that is exactly what Sauk Rapids-Rice quarterback Spencer Ackerman is doing in 2023. He led the Storm to a 7-2 record and a ranking as high as fifth in Class 5A.
“What makes Spencer special as a sophomore QB is not his physical skills,” said Sauk Rapids-Rice Head Coach Phillip Klaphake. “In saying that, he is athletic enough to make plays and has enough arm talent to make all the throws. As he grows, it will only add more to what is already a strong QB skill set.”
Ackerman is 5’10” and 170 pounds, but still growing into his frame. He is getting a crash course in being a varsity quarterback and has responded well with a season stat line of 1,934 yards on 124 completions and 15 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Storm’s season came to an end when they lost 38-35 in the section playoffs to defending champion Elk River 38-35. Ackerman threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Coach Klaphake describes Ackerman as a tough competitor with great composure and discipline, especially for a young quarterback.
“He is a football junkie,” he said. “He cares about the details and is very intelligent. He plays with great confidence and toughness and has natural leadership skills.”
In his first game as the varsity starter, Ackerman was 23-for-31 for 365 yards and three touchdowns. He helped lead a solid Storm team to wins in their first six games before losing in Week 7 to Andover 29-8. They share Section 7AAAAA with Andover and reigning state champion Elk River. So far they are 3-1 in section play, having defeated Cambridge-Isanti, St. Francis and Elk River in a close battle 30-28. Ackerman threw for two touchdowns in that game to his favorite target Hudson Omoke. Omoke has 47 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
“Spencer has made big plays in each of our games this year,” said Klaphake. “He is still learning but playing the position at a high level.”
Ackerman takes the job of quarterback seriously. Last season as a freshman he attended varsity meetings and weekend film sessions without being prompted to do so by the coaching staff.
He enjoys the off the field aspect of being a quarterback and the work that comes with it.
“I hope my teammates, coaches and opponents believe that I am a player who does all the little things right and plays the game with high intelligence,” Ackerman said. “I love improving every time I play, learning and processing for the next time I play.”
Coach Klaphake said the position requires a lot of attention to detail, and Ackerman has transitioned perfectly into his starting role.
“What we do offensively puts a ton of pressure on our quarterbacks,” said Klaphake. “For anyone who isn’t in our meetings, it would be difficult to understand how he is able to process. I have been thankful to coach a number of quarterbacks with that skill and he is right up there with them as a sophomore.”