The Holy Spirit High School football team showed it would be a team to watch in 2013 in its final 2012 game.

The Spartans beat favored Immaculata 30-6 to win the state Non-Public II title. It was Spirit’s third-straight state championship.

The Spartans return nearly every player from that game.

“That game let us know that we can play with anybody no matter how big the competition,” Spirit running back Taalib Gerald said. “It gave us confidence coming into the season this year.”

Spirit will start the season No. 1 in The Press Elite 11.

The Spartans will rely on a stingy defense that allowed a touchdown or less in nine games last season.

Ray Ellis, a 6-foot-23, 250-pound defensive tackle, is a force inside.

Linebacker Jeff Steeb has scholarship offers from Villanova and Delaware. A.J. Dawson and Franco Rificci lead the secondary.

 Holy Spirit should be better on offense this season as it is running the triple-option for the second season.

T.J. Anderson took over at quarterback early last season and improved with each game. The 220-pound Anderson bench presses more than 400 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Spirit also will feature running backs with the speed to score every time the touch the ball, most notably Taalib Gerald, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. Fullbacks Deandre Dennis and Steeb are more than capable of gaining up the tough yards inside.

The Spirit seniors want to finish their high school careers with another state championship.

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.