"I just try to imagine myself making a big play," says Scarpulla, a junior at Minisink Valley High in upstate New York. "Where the ball goes is where I'm going to be."
That's usually how it works out. Scarpulla led the state with 155 tackles last fall and added five sacks and three forced fumbles. Minisink Valley plays in Class AA - the biggest classification in New York - with defending state champ Monroe-Woodbury.
Still, Scarpulla, who is 6-foot, 205 pounds, is still a bit of a secret and is just starting to land on the radar of Division I coaches. Expect him to gain a lot more attention after coaches watch him throw the weights around next month at an invitation-only Nike Camp at West Point.
Scarpulla won the 16-year-old National High School Powerlifting championship in Killeen, Texas last June. He bench presses 355 pounds, squats 500, dead lifts 500 and is still improving his speed. Scarpulla works out four days a week with his father, Rick, the powerlifting coach at Army.
"The lifting helps me be that much stronger," says Nick Scarpulla, a 2005 Times Herald-Record first-team linebacker. "That's how I overpower opponents. It's a big part of my success." Despite being double-teamed for most of the season, Scarpulla still made dozens of tackles in the backfield. He single-handily changed games and used his strength to throw quarterbacks and running backs around like rag dolls. Anyone who got in his way paid a price. It doesn't look like this Scarpulla kid will be a secret for long.
Nick has some early intertes from several schools but is waiting for offers. Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, Penn State, Duke, Maryland, South Florida, Boston College, Rhode Island, Hofstra, Western Illinois, Lehigh and Army are some of the schools Nick is interested in.