Football preview: Bishop Eustace at Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit 4 Taalib Gerald tackled by Mainland 28 Alexander DeNafo during the second half. Friday September 28 2012 Mainland at Holy Spirit Football. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Few local teams have experienced the postseason success of the Holy Spirit High School football team the past five years.

The Spartans have won three state titles, including two in a row.

Spirit begins pursuit of another state title when it hosts Bishop Eustace at 7 p.m. today in a state Non-Public II quarterfinal.

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The Spartans haven't had the calmest of seasons this year.

Coach John Iannucci took over the program and installed the triple-option offense. Spirit lost its fist two games - 22-20 to Hammonton in overtime and 7-0 to St. Joseph.

But after the St. Joe loss, Spirit won five of its next six games behind a stingy defense that has two shutouts and has allowed a touchdown or less in five of its eight games.

Linebacker Jeff Steeb and defensive back A.J. Dawson lead the defense. Each has returned an interception for a touchdown.

Eustace's season has gone the opposite of Spirit's. Eustace won its first two games but has lost six straight since.

Key players for Bishop Eustace: Conneer Bor, QB/DB, 50-of-112 for 721 yards and 109 carries for 345 yards and seven touchdowns; Roy Hansen, LB, 50 tackles, one interception; Jack Brandt, DE, two sacks; Myles Hauser, RB, 64 carries for 275 yards.

Key players for Holy Spirit: Taalib Gerald (above), RB, 85 carries for 530 yards; A.J. Dawson, RB/DB, 48 carries for 490 yards; T.J. Anderson, QB, 9-of-28 for 179 yards and two touchdowns; Liam Nolan, WR, 11 catches for 109 yards; Jeff Steeb, LB, three interceptions.

Keys to victory: There is no fancy game plan for Holy Spirit. The Spartans need to control the ball with their running game and rely on their stingy defense.

Michael McGarry

Game details

Who: Seventh-seeded Bishop Eustace (2-6) vs. second-seeded Holy Spirit (5-3)

When/where: 7 p.m. today at Holy Spirit

Radio: 94.3 FM

What's next: Winner advances to the semifinals the weekend of Nov. 30/Dec. 1 against the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between sixth-seeded Pingry (3-6) and third-seeded Holy Cross (4-4)

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