No state championship trophy will be awarded after the Holy Spirit High School football team meets St. Joseph on Saturday afternoon.
The winner won't hang a banner in their gymnasium.
Saturday's winner will simply get to proclaim it is better than the other team.
That's enough to make this the most anticipated game of 2011.
Spirit (2-1) and St. Joe (2-0) kickoff at 2 p.m. at St. Joe in Hammonton. Spirit is No. 1 in The Press Elite 11. St. Joe is No. 2.
"This game means everything for us," Spirit coach Charles Roman said. "It's the Super Bowl."
The parochial schools are both among the best in the state. Both won state championships last season and are prohibitive favorites to do so again this year - St. Joe in the Non-Public I enrollment group and Holy Spirit in Non-Public II.
"Whoever loses this game isn't going to feel any solace in winning a state championship," Roman said.
St. Joe and Holy Spirit first met in 2000. Their rivalry almost immediately became one of the Cape-Atlantic League's most intense. The two parochials schools sometimes compete to attract the same players.
They are also two of the region's most successful programs. St. Joe leads the series 8-4, but Spirit has won three of the last four meetings, including 35-0 last year.
Fans are expected to surround St. Joe's field at the end of West Second Street. Even non-fans of both schools will be in the crowd.
"I think you'll have a lot of curious people there," St. Joe coach Paul Sacco said, "and I don't think either team will disappoint them."
Both teams are among the best in their schools' respective histories.
Spirit's lone loss was a win on the field. The Spartans played an academically ineligible player and forfeited their season-opening 41-16 win over Oakcrest.
Spirit features two of New Jersey's top running backs in Donta Pollock and Nigel Jones. The two backs have already combined to rush for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Spartans linebacker Dan Mastromatteo is headed to the University of North Carolina. Villanova-bound Nico D'Angelo leads a huge offensive line at 6-foot-4, 288 pounds.
Spirit has been tested this season. But the Spartans have worn teams down and outscored their opponents 69-6 in the second half.
"We need to flat out lean on (St. Joe) for four quarters," Roman said. "They have nine kids going both ways. We don't have even close to that. We're going to send fresh bodies at them non-stop."
St. Joe counters with a pair of stellar defensive ends in Kaiwan Lewis and Max Valles. Lewis is headed to the University of South Carolina, while Valles will attend Virginia.
"That's going to be an issue for us," Roman said of Valles and Lewis. "We're an edge running football team, and I can't imagine there's anybody better in the state defending the edge with the two guys they have out there."
St. Joe has dominated in its two wins this season, outscoring its opponents 106-7. But the Wildcats' opponents are a combined 1-5. The Wildcats are used to hearing complaints about their schedule. St. Joe did scrimmage two of the state's better teams in Hunterdon Central and East Orange.
"People look at us as being in a small enrollment group without a tough schedule," Wildcats lineman Cory Litton said. "When we come along to one of these games, a lot of be look at this as the real test. This is it."
Sacco said St. Joe needs to score plenty of points Saturday.
"We can't be on defense the whole game long," he said. "We have to get our offense going. We have to run and throw the ball. Teams are not going to beat Holy Spirit by scoring six or seven points. You have to score a bunch of points against them."
When Saturday's game ends, both teams will probably have two months left in their seasons. But this contest - more than any other played in 2011 - will define how both teams are remembered. Trophies, jackets and banners don't mean much when compared to memories.
"We know what this game is for," Mastromatteo said. "It's for the best team in the area. This game will let everyone know who's the best."
Contact Michael McGarry: