12:42 PM

Staying in the Game

Lighter choices often a ritual for pre-game meals

Anyone who’s met a high school football player won’t be surprised to know they can eat. A lot.

Teenage metabolism power, plus hours of intense practice means these students don’t worry too much about calories.

But, at the same time, they’re athletes. And nobody wants to fill up with a triple-meat Whataburger right before the big game.

That’s why Ben Cook, the athletic director for MacArthur High School in San Antonio, encourages his teams to eat filling but healthy meals before a game.

And that’s where Whataburger’s lineup of chicken options comes in.

The restaurant at Bulverde Road and Loop 1604 hosted football team members from the Class of 2018 to see what menu choices got the guys ready to win.

Grill It Up

For Cameron Acker, the choice is simple. As a wide receiver, he wants to stay fast and fit. “I gotta stay lean,” he says. “It’s important to me to eat healthy.” Whataburger’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, coming in at 430 calories, fits the bill. And, best of all? “It’s smackin’,” Acker says. “The sauce makes it different than anything else out there.”

Spice is Nice

“When you go to Whataburger, you’re not thinking about a fajita taco,” Cook says. “But maybe we should. This was a hit.”

Whataburger’s Chicken Fajita Taco is simple goodness. Stuffed with marinated chicken, fire-roasted poblano peppers, onions, and red peppers, it’s only 340 calories. Which means Michael Barnes wants two. “I’m a big guy,” says the lineman. “I have to have double the food of the average human.” Also, he likes the kick: “Those peppers…that came out of nowhere,” he says. “Just like a lineman.”

Throw some avocado on there – maybe some grilled jalapenos – and you’ve got a plate of plenty that won’t slow down your game. “If I have something that tastes good, and it’s healthy … I’m eating it,” Barnes said.

Michael Groff agrees. “This tastes like it came from my favorite Mexican restaurant,” he says. “It’s really good, and there’s a lot. The chicken is like falling out of the tortilla because it’s so full.”

When you go to Whataburger, you’re not thinking about a fajita taco. But maybe we should. This was a hit.
Ben Cook, Athletic Director

Fried Fun

The crispy white-meat filet on the Whatachick’n Sandwich is satisfying on its own. But paired with fresh-cut tomatoes and leaf lettuce? It hits the spot. “The lettuce and tomato really stood out,” said Jarod Maxson. “It made it all taste fresh.” He’s also a fan of the Savory Whatasauce and the artisanal wheat bun. “I would eat that before a game,” he says.

And, the classic chicken strip or chicken bite was also a favorite – in part because players could customize it. “I can get a variety of sauces (to dip), so I have something different every time,” Pete Smith says.

Easy Being Green

After a game, Nate Esquivel wants a Honey Barbecue Chicken Strip Sandwich. But before a game, he could go for a salad. “The Apple & Cranberry Salad with Grilled Chicken was really good,” he says. “I’m full, but not too full.”

Another option for a salad that will keep you full, but not too full: Whataburger’s Garden Salad, add a Whatachick’n or Grilled Chicken filet and ask for side cups of both Buffalo Sauce and Ranch Dressing. Mix it up for a Buffalo Ranch Chicken Salad that’s lighter on calories but still heavy on flavor.

Or, order the Garden Salad, Grilled Chicken, add avocado, grilled jalapenos, and Grilled Peppers and Onions. Drizzle with low-fat Ranch Dressing and Picante Sauce for a southwestern spin

Justin Smith is open to the idea, but he’s still hedging his bets. “I think it would work as a side salad,” he says. “Or, you know, if I know for sure I’m getting my Whataburger after the game.”


Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Dobson gave his restaurant a name he hoped to hear customers say every time they took a bite of his made-to-order burgers: “What a burger!” Within the first week, people lined up around the block for his 25 cent, 100 percent beef burgers served on five-inch buns. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with more than 820 locations in 10 states with sales of more than $2 billion annually. Visit www.whataburger.com for more information.