Holy Spirit made the playoffs last season.
The Spartans won seven games.
They beat rival Atlantic City on Thanksgiving.
But what Spirit remembers most about 2008 is its three losses.
The Spartans lost to Mainland Regional (24-0), St. Augustine Prep (26-24) and Immaculata of Somerset County (21-20) in overtime.
Those three teams were a combined 32-3 last season. That's no solace to Spirit.
"It's been a sick feeling all year long," Spartans coach Chalie Roman said of the losses. "It's time to get back on track."
By back on track, Roman is probably referring to 2007 when the Spartans finished 12-0 and won the state Non-Public III championship.
Few teams return as much talent as Spirit. The Spartans relied primarily on underclassmen last season, including several freshman and sophomores.
Spirit features a formidable tandem at running back in sophomores Nigel Jones and Donta Pollock.
Jones led the Cape-Atlantic League with 1,207 rushing yards. He's 20 pounds heavier than last season and ran the 40-yard dash this summer in 4.59 seconds.
Junior Joe Callahan returns at quarterback. Callahan was new to the team last year. He transferred from St. Augustine Prep after his freshman season.
With Callahan having more experience, Roman expects the Spartans to throw more than they did last year.
"Joe didn't know anybody last year," Roman said. "He was just trying to fit in. He's established himself as a leader this year."
Junior Tim Goodwin will lead the offensive and defensive lines at 6-foot-3, 255-pounds this fall.
One Spartan has emerged this summer as one of the region's top recruits.
Linebacker Anthony Sarao, a 6-1, 210-pound junior, has impressed at several combine workouts and summer camps at Penn State and Ohio State.
Sarao played on the defensive line last fall.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 22
LAST APPEARANCE: 2008
PLAYOFF RECORD: 17-16
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League National Conference/State Non-Public III
COACH: Charlie Roman
(7-3, one season)
2008 RECORD: 7-3
2009 PREDICTION: Contender.
The Spartans were young last season. They are year bigger, a year faster and a year better this season.
THE GROUND GAME:
Sophomores Nigel Jones and Donta Pollock are two of southern New Jersey's most dynamic running backs.
Joe Callahan, Jr., QB, 6- 1, 185; Nigel Jones, So., RB, 5-10, 190; Anthony Sarao, Jr., FB/LB, 6-1, 215;
Dan McNair, Sr., WR, 5-9, 145;
Joe Sarnese, Jr., WR/DB, 6-1, 180; Zach Fabel, So., TE, 6-2, 215;
Joe Bodenlof, So., OL, 6-3, 245; Tim Goodwin, Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 260; Rocco Tabasso, Jr., OL, 5-11, 230; Trevor Glanville, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 255;
Vinny Jiacopello, Jr., OL, 6-0, 255; Rocky Fiqueroa, So., DL, 5-11, 210;
Greg Goff, Sr., DL, 5'1, 190;
Quay Williams, Sr., LB, 5'9" 180; Dan Campbell, Sr., LB, 5-10, 185; Donta Pollock, So., LB/RB, 5-10, 205;
Travis McElroy, Sr., CB, 5-5, 150; Kyle Klein, So., CB, 5-5, 150; Tommy Worthington, So., K, 5-9, 160;
Andrew DiPasquale, Jr., P, 5-10, 170
Holy Spirit's Schedule
Sept. 11: at Pleasantville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18: Lower Cape May Regional, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: at Middle Township, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: at St. Joseph, noon
Oct. 9: Mainland Regional, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: at Bridgeton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: Buena Regional, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6: St. Augustine Prep, 7 p.m.
Nov. 26: at Atlantic City, 10 a.m.