Spirit football

The Spartans’ Angelo Dawson breaks away from the Eagles’ Randy Canela during Friday’s game at Egg Harbor Township High School.

Press photo by Dave Griffin

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Holy Spirit High School junior Jeff Steeb made the move from safety to linebacker this season.

Steeb showed Friday that he still does a pretty good impression of a defensive back when necessary.

Steeb ended Egg Harbor Township's last-gasp drive in the fourth quarter with his third interception of the season.

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Holy Spirit's A.J. Dawson scored a 56-yard touchdown in the final minute and the Spartans beat Egg Harbor Township 17-3 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game.

"I just try to go through my reads," Steeb said. "I watch the quarterback and then just try to go make a play for my team."

Earlier this year, Steeb had an interception in a loss to St. Joseph and a key interception return for a touchdown in a win against Absegami.

"He's got great instincts," Spirit coach John Iannucci said. "He's a great athlete. He's a Division I athlete size-wise and speed-wise. He's finding his way on the inside and he's getting better and better. He has all the tools."

The Spartans (4-3) have allowed seven points or fewer in five of their seven games - not bad for a defense with just one senior among its top 16.

"They're getting the idea of it," Iannucci said. "We sit and we play zone. We keep everything in front of us. You are going to have to earn your touchdown."

Spirit made its first drive of the game count. The Spartans went 59 yards on nine plays and took a 7-0 lead on Taalib Gerald's 2-yard run.

There was nothing flashy about Spirit's offense. The Spartans threw the ball only three times and didn't complete any.

The Spartans did, however, run for 226 yards.

"What's going for us is going for us," Iannucci said. "The passing will come. That will work itself out."

The Eagles responded to Spirit's touchdown drive with a 10-play scoring drive. Tim Mason capped off the drive with a 22-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

Neither team scored again until midway through the fourth quarter.

A big fourth-down conversion near midfield set up Franco Rifici's 34-yard field goal.

That was all the points the Spartans wound up needing.

Dawson finished with 80 yards on five carries and blocked a long field-goal attempt in the third quarter to preserve the lead. Gerald ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

EHT's Matt Clayton ran for 108 yards on 17 carries, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the second straight week.

"I thought we moved the ball well," EHT coach Tony DeRosa said. "We just didn't put the ball in the end zone. We did some really good things. Our offensive line did some good things. I'm very proud of the way they played. The bottom line is we had our opportunities and we didn't score."

The loss dropped the Eagles to 3-4 and turned their playoff prospects into a longshot.

"We're not looking at that right now," DeRosa said. "We want to take it one game at a time. We're going to look at this game, make our corrections and we're going to move on to Ocean City."

Contact John O'Kane:


Holy Spirit 7 0 0 10-17

Egg Harbor Township 0 3 0 0-3


HS-Gerald 2 run (Rifici kick)


EHT-Mason 22 field goal


HS-Rifici 34 field goal

HS-Dawson 56 run (Rifici kick)

Individual stats

Rushing-Holy Spirit, Dawson 5-80, Anderson 10-57, Gerald 12-50, Rifici 1-22, Dennis 6-15, Steeb 1-2. EHT, Clayton 17-108, Doughty 14-52, Moore 5-6.

Passing-Holy Spirit, Anderson 0-2-0-0, Rifici 0-1-0-1. EHT, Doughty 5-12-43-1.

Receiving-EHT, Smith 1-15, Nagbe 2-14, Clayton 1-10, Moore 1-4.

Records-Holy Spirit 4-3; EHT 3-4.

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