Downingtown East’s Spencer Uggla ‘the picture of a student-athlete’
The running back and linebacker, who is the school's senior class president, leads the Cougars into Friday night's showdown with fellow unbeaten and cross-town rival Downingtown West.
Spencer Uggla is president of the Downingtown East High senior class and founder of the school’s chapter of the Aevidum Club, which focuses on student support for mental-health issues and suicide prevention.
He is a member of the sprawling district’s Student Life Committee and Student Leadership Team. He is a school mentor with a 4.46 weighted grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and 1,500 score on his SAT.
In his spare time, Uggla leads the undefeated Downingtown East football team in scoring, rushing yards and tackles.
“He’s the picture of a student-athlete,” Downingtown East coach Mike Matta said. “A kid like him, that’s why you coach high school football.”
Uggla, a running back and linebacker, will lead Downingtown East into Friday night’s clash with cross-town rival Downingtown West in the annual “Battle of the Brandywine” before what’s expected to be a capacity-plus crowd in Kottmeyer Stadium.
“We know those guys; a lot of us played [youth sports] with them growing up,” Uggla said of players from Downingtown West. “It’s for bragging rights.”
Matta said he’s been coaching football at the college or high school level since 1983, “and I’ve never been around a young man like Spencer.”
Uggla is a three-year letterman and two-year starter for Downingtown East (6-0), the No. 5 team in the Inquirer Southeastern Pa. Top 10. Downingtown West also is 6-0 and holds down the No. 2 spot.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Uggla has 505 rushing yards on 57 carries (8.8 average) with eight touchdowns. He also has caught a touchdown pass for a team that is averaging 37.3 points.
But he prefers linebacker.
“I like being able to break down film, knowing my reads, seeing the guard pull and getting downhill,” Uggla said. “And delivering the blow is fun.”
Uggla is a three-sport athlete who has been a captain for the football, wrestling and lacrosse teams. He was the PIAA District 1 wrestling champion at 171 pounds as a junior.
Matta marvels at Uggla’s ability to mix academic excellence and social responsibility with a physical presence in the athletic arena.
“For a kid that never had a B in his life and takes all AP classes and 1500 on SATs, he’s a physical, tough kid,” Matta said. “You don’t win a district wrestling title without being tough. You don’t play linebacker the way he plays linebacker — aggressive, athletic — without being tough.”
Uggla attributes his success in sports and the classroom to something simple: hard work.
“My parents have always emphasized working hard and trying my best, and that’s just kind of what led me to where I am now,” Uggla said.
Uggla hopes to play football and study neuroscience in college. He’s looking at some high-level academic schools that play at the NCAA Division III level, such as Johns Hopkins, Bowdoin, Williams, and Washington and Lee, among others.
“Football is my favorite,” Uggla said. “There’s no other sport like football. Wrestling, it’s just you out there. Lacrosse, you can have one guy who’s really good and he can carry the team.
“In football, everyone has to do their job, all 11 guys. I love the team aspect of football.”
Uggla played football as a fifth grader for the Marsh Creek youth program’s 105-pound team with Downingtown West quarterback Will Howard, a Kansas State recruit.
Like so many players on both sides of the rivalry, Uggla grew up watching Downingtown East play Downingtown West in the biggest game in town every football season.
“It’s kind of a dream,” Uggla said. “My senior year. This is what it’s all about. This is what I’ve been waiting for.”