Coach John Iannucci wanted his Holy Spirit High School football team to play last weekend.

The Spartans lost their first two games and then had a bye. Spirit lost to Hammonton 22-20 in overtime on Sept. 7. The Spartans then lost to St. Joseph 7-0 when the Wildcats scored with 15 seconds left on Sept. 15. Hammonton is No. 9 in The Press Elite 11, while St. Joe is No. 1.

Iannucci said a game last weekend would have helped his team focus on something besides the two defeats.

"Losing drags on," Iannucci said. "I think it's good to be back on field. I wouldn't care if we were playing a pickup team."

Spirit returns to action when it hosts Mainland Regional (1-2) at 7 p.m. today.

Spirit had an eventful bye week. Starting quarterback C.J. LaFragola transferred to St. Joe. Junior T.J. Anderson takes over.

One positive for Spirit in the first two games was the way its defense played. Hammonton and St. Joe began 14 drives in Holy Spirit territory and scored just twice.

In a telephone conversation Wednesday, Iannucci spoke about a number of topics, including the mood of the Spartans and the new quarterback.

On the mood of the team: The kids are used to winning. I'm sure we'll bounce back. The kids were looking forward to the first two games because they were such big games. But those games are gone now. We want to make the playoffs and win a state title. That's the goal at Holy Spirit every year.

On Anderson at quarterback: He's a good athlete. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. He was a running back and he asked for a shot at quarterback so we gave him a shot. He has a strong arm. I wouldn't call him a passer yet, but he's a good athlete.

On the Spirit defense: We can grow defensively. I told the kids do you want to be known as a good defense or a great defense. We can improve.