Buena Regional defenders Michael Haygood, center, and Tyler Hillgrube, right, team up to tackle Holy Spirit’s Nigel Jones during Friday night’s game in Absecon. Staff photo by Edward Lea

ABSECON - Nigel Jones felt fine carrying the ball Friday night.

Between plays, the Holy Spirit High School running back felt shaky.

Jones was one 13 Spirit starters to come down with the flu this week. The Spartans survived and beat Buena Regional 35-0 in a Cape-Atlantic League National Conference football game.

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Jones scored two touchdowns before leaving in the second quarter.

"I had a 104 (degree) fever earlier this week," Jones said. "I didn't feel better (Friday). I really didn't. But it's a different feeling on the field. I felt normal. After the play, I wanted to pass out."

Donta Pollock eventually replaced Jones and ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns of his own.

"You have to step up," Pollock said. "The team was depending on me."

Spirit (6-1) has won three straight by a combined score of 111-7.

The Spartans barely practiced this week.

"It was awful," Spirit coach Charles Roman said. "We had a walk-through practice on Tuesday. We didn't practice Wednesday and had a another walk-through on Thursday. We canceled all our lifting for the week. We canceled our team dinner. We feel fortunate to come out and play decent."

Flu scares are even scarier this year with the publicity and warnings about swine flu. None of the Spartans had that strain.

"Everybody was thinking of swine," Roman said. "I was thinking the same thing."

Spirit faced a Buena team that had won two straight.

The Chiefs (4-3) had an early chance to take the lead. They blocked a Spirit punt and got the ball on the Spartans' 15-yard line. But three running plays produced 1 yard, and the Chiefs missed a 31-yard field goal.

Holy Spirit combined the running of Jones (17 carries for 70 yards) and Pollock with the passing of quarterback Joe Callahan (7-of-15 for 183 yards).

Spirit scored on four straight possessions after the blocked punt.

Jones left the game in the second quarter and watched the rest of the contest.

Spirit has a luxury few other high school teams have in Pollock. He's no ordinary backup. A standout linebacker on defense, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Pollock is a physical runner.

Holy Spirit drove 80 yards in 15 plays for its final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Pollock scored on a 1-yard run, his 13th carry of the possession.

Pollock stayed healthy all week.

"I knew I wasn't going to get sick," Pollock said. "I never get sick."

What's his secret?

"I stay away from everybody," he said with a laugh.

Buena had its moments offensively, but the Spirit defense stiffened each time the Chiefs threatened to score.

Spartans defensive back Quay Williams, linebacker Anthony Sarao and defensive ends Dan Mastromateo and Greg Goff each had tackles for losses.

Buena quarterback and running back Donetae McKinnon had trouble finding room to run, carrying 13 times for 25 yards.

"I don't think I did a great job of getting us ready to play a physical football team like that," Buena coach Paul Callahan said. "They keyed on Donetae and we have to be a little bit more diverse."

The worst seems to be over the Spartans as far as the flu. Only one player missed school Friday.

That's a good thing because Spirit hosts St. Augustine Prep, undefeated and ranked No. 3 in The Press' Elite 11, next Friday in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the conference titles.

"Definitely," Jones said when asked if he and the rest of the Spartans would be ready for the Hermits. "Definitely, definitely."

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