LINWOOD -- All rankings can be viewed as subjective, but there's not much doubt that the Holy Spirit High School football team deserves its No. 1 slot in The Press Elite 11.
If there was any doubt (and, based on the season so far, there couldn't have been much), the Spartans blew that out of the water during Friday night's 42-0 win over host Mainland Regional High School here.
This isn't a bad Mainland team. Now 3-3, the Mustangs aren't near the caliber of the school's best squads of recent years. But they do have wins over St. Augustine Prep and Absegami to hang their hats on.
But the Spartans (now 5-0) are a different animal altogether. They established their dominance on the line of scrimmage from the very start Friday. Holy Spirit's running game is top-notch, but the running backs have a lot of help.
If you remember "The Hogs" of Washington Redskins offensive-line fame from the early 1980s (Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm and friends), they would open holes wide enough to drive a truck through. John Riggins was the beneficiary, and he would reel off 6- or 8-yard gains on a regular basis.
Holy Spirit certainly has the backs to take advantage of the huge gaps carved out by the line. Junior Donta Pollock sprinted his way to five rushing touchdowns on Friday night, and fellow junior Nigel Jones had the best run of the night ... a 45-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
But the Spartans aren't all about flashy offense. They play some gritty defense, too. Junior Dan Mastromateo lifted his team's entire sideline morale with a bone-shattering sack of Mainland quarterback Tom Bradway in the third quarter.
And there's the size issue as well. The Holy Spirit defensive line and linebackers all seem to be about 6-foot-3, and they batted down many of Bradway's passes before the throws even had a chance to reach their intended targets.
I spoke briefly to Spartans senior defensive end Josh Popper at halftime, jokingly asking him what they feed kids these days. Popper looks like he could start at small forward in the NBA, and his hoops background was one of the factors he mentioned.
"This is my first year as a football player," Popper said. "I've been a basketball player up to this point." And the way he's seamlessly made the transition to the gridiron speaks to the type of weapons the Spartans have at their disposal.
The old cliche "any given Sunday (or Friday/Saturday in the case of high school teams still applies ... anything can happen. But it's going to take a truly special effort by any team to take Holy Spirit down from the ranks of the unbeaten this season. That's for sure.