Holy Spirit hopes to realize potential tonight in state Non-Public II title game vs. Camden Catholic - pressofAtlanticCity.com: High School Football

Holy Spirit hopes to realize potential tonight in state Non-Public II title game vs. Camden Catholic - pressofAtlanticCity.com: High School Football

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The Boys Basketball Elite 11

A ranking of teams in the Cape-Atlantic League; Colonial Conference; Burlington County League; Olympic Conference and Tri-County Conference. Also ranked are Shore Conference teams that compete for South Jersey titles. Rankings selected by The Press high school sports staff based on staff observation, research and interviews with players and coaches.

1. Paul VI (1) 4-0

2. Holy Spirit (3) 4-1

3. Atlantic City (5) 2-1

4. Haddonfield (6) 5-0

5. CBA (7) 2-2

6. Bishop Eustace (8) 5-1

7. Trenton Catholic (4) 2-3

8. Pitman (2) 3-1

9. Eastern (UR) 4-0

10. St. Augustine Prep (10) 4-0

11. Wildwood Catholic (11) 4-2

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Holy Spirit hopes to realize potential tonight in state Non-Public II title game vs. Camden Catholic

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Posted: Friday, December 2, 2011 12:15 am | Updated: 1:43 am, Fri Dec 2, 2011.

The Holy Spirit High School football team began the season as the prohibitive favorite to win the state Non-Public II title.

Spirit will play for that championship - as the underdog.

The Spartans don't mind the status change.

Spirit (7-3) and Camden Catholic (10-0) kick off at 7 p.m. at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township, Mercer County. Spirit is the No. 2 seed and No. 10 in The Press Elite 11. Camden Catholic is the top seed and No. 5 in the Elite 11.

"We're not in the position we expected to be, but it's not going to change the way we play," Spirit linebacker Ethan Gambale said. "We didn't play to our potential all season, but now we've gotten in a groove."

Spirit began the season with high hopes. The Spartans finished 12-0 and won the state Non-Public III title last year. They returned several standouts and were No. 1 in the preseason Elite 11.

The Spartans were disappointed their enrollment placed in them in the Non-Public II because they wouldn't get to play northern New Jersey Non-Public III powers such as St. Joseph Montvale in Bergen County.

But Spirit struggled from the start. The Spartans forfeited a 41-16 win over Oakcrest for using an academically ineligible player. They struggled with turnovers and penalties and lost to St. Joseph 34-7 on Oct. 1 and Hammonton 37-14 on Oct. 21. Spirit was 3-3 after six games.

"We hit some speed bumps," Gambale said. "We were pretty low. Kids were almost giving up, but we got it back together. Now we're starting to play like we should have been."

The Spartans have won four straight since the Hammonton loss by the combined score of 169-25.

"We played a number of sophomores and even a couple of freshmen this year," Spirit coach Charles Roman said. "While they were surrounded with some really good senior players, it took them a while to grow up and come into their own. Now they're playing like we hoped they would have played earlier."

Meanwhile, Camden Catholic has excelled from the start under first-year coach Gil Brooks, who built a national power at St. Joseph Prep in Philadelphia. Brooks, a South Jersey attorney, coached St. Joseph to a 167-57-2 record from 1992-2007.

There should be nothing fancy about tonight's game. Both teams emphasize the run.

"It's whoever comes out and plays for more physical," Roman said. "Somebody is going to have an advantage pushing the other team's line off the ball."

Quarterback Pete Galiano sparks Camden Catholic with more than 1,300 yards of total offense.

"He is a true dual threat," Roman said. "He throws the ball well, but he's way more dangerous when he pulls the ball down. His running ability is outstanding."

Spirit features running backs Donta Pollock and Nigel Jones, both of whom have rushed for more than 4,000 yards in their careers.

The Holy Spirit and Camden Catholic football teams haven't played in at least 18 years.

The two schools meet often in other sports, especially boys basketball where they played in the 2008 and 2009 state tournament.

"I go cheer for our basketball team," Gambale said. "Their fans are pretty crazy, so it always gets pretty heated. It's exciting to play them in football because I'm used to cheering against them on the court."

Tonight could be the start of an intense football rivalry. Spirit is already one of the state's elite Non-Public programs. Camden Catholic only figures to build on this season with Brooks as coach.

"We're probably going to be playing each other for years and this is the beginning of it," Roman said.

Contact Michael McGarry:



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Cape-Atlantic League National Conference

School Conference Overall
St. Augustine Prep 7-0 8-2
Bridgeton 7-1 8-3
Cedar Creek 6-1 7-2
Buena Regional 5-3 5-5
Ocean City 3-4 4-5
Middle Township 2-5 3-6
Vineland 2-6 2-7
Pleasantville 1-6 2-7
Lower Cape May Regional 0-7 0-8

Cape-Atlantic League American Conference

School Conference Overall
Holy Spirit 7-0 10-0
St. Joseph 6-1 9-1
Millville 6-2 7-3
Hammonton 5-2 6-3
Atlantic City 3-4 4-5
Absegami 2-5 4-5
Oakcrest 1-6 2-7
Mainland Regional 1-6 3-6
Egg Harbor Township 1-6 2-7

Shore Conference A South

School Conference Overall
Jackson Memorial 6-1 7-3
Brick Township 5-2 8-3
Toms River South 5-2 7-3
Brick Memorial 4-3 6-4
Lacey Township 3-4 5-5
Southern Regional 3-4 4-5
Toms River East 1-5 3-6
Toms River North 0-6 1-8

Shore Conference B South

School Conference Overall
Barnegat 5-1 9-1
Central Regional 5-2 5-4
Monsignor Donovan 4-2 4-5
Lakewood 4-3 6-3
Jackson Liberty 3-4 4-5
Manchester Township 3-3 3-6
Pinelands Regional 1-5 1-8
Pt. Pleasant Boro 1-6 1-9

West Jersey Football League Royal Division

School Conference Overall
Camden 4-0 9-1
Delsea Regional 4-1 9-2
Woodrow Wilson 3-1 4-5
Bishop Eustace 1-4 5-4
Cumberland Regional 1-4 1-8
Deptford 1-4 1-8

West Jersey Football League Classic Division

School Conference Overall
Pennsville 5-0 8-2
Salem 4-1 5-5
Gloucester 3-2 3-6
Clayton 1-3 3-6
Pitman 1-3 2-7
Wildwood 0-5 2-5

Scoring leaders

Name School Total points
Lamont Harris St. Augustine Prep 126
Stefon Bowman Bridgeton 110
David Hood Absegami 108
Christian Tutela Lacey Township 100
Taalib Gerald Holy Spirit 96
Cappadonna Miller Bridgeton 92
Ryquell Armstead Millville 90
Rob Ennis Millville 90
Cody Sampson St. Joseph 84

Rushing touchdowns

Name School TDs
Lamont Harris St. Augustine Prep 21
Stefon Bowman Bridgeton 16
David Hood Absegami 15
Taalib Gerald Holy Spirit 14
Ryquell Armstead Millville 13

Passing touchdowns

Name School TDs
Tom Kelly Lacey Township 19
Jose Tabora St. Augustine Prep 19
Jamir Prevard Atlantic City 16
Ty Mindish Mainland Regional 13

Receiving touchdowns

Name School TDs
Christian Tutela Lacey Township 14
Austin Francisco St. Augustine Prep 12
Alex Padovani Hammonton 7
Isiah Graves Atlantic City 7
Jim Brennan Mainland Regional 7
LaDarrell Dixon Oakcrest 7

Field goal leaders

Name School Number Longest in yards
Jon Kubricki Pinelands Regional 5 36
Ryan Ulrich Barnegat 4 37
Joe Stadnicki Ocean City 4 38
Franco Rifici Holy Spirit 4 27
Alex Padovani Hammonton 3 30
Ryan Davis Cumberland Regional 3 47
Kyle Snow St. Augustine Prep 3 32
Mike McGarry
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James Clark
  • James Clark
  • Assistant Soccer Coach at St. Augustine Prep
  • James Clark has been writing about soccer for various media outlets, including The Press of Atlantic City, for 15 years. The Northfield resident coached travel teams in the South Jersey Soccer League for a decade and is currently an assistant soccer coach at St. Augustine Prep. Clark's blog will appear three times a week and daily during this summer's World Cup.