The Holy Spirit High School football team can reach a state final for the third time in five years tonight.
Spartans running backs Donta Pollock and Nigel Jones can also make history.
Pollock (4,317 career rushing yards) and Jones (3,936 career rushing yards) are trying to become the first New Jersey teammates to reach the 4,000-yard career rushing mark in the same season, according to South Jersey football historian Chuck Langerman.
Spirit did not have the regular season it wanted to. The Spartans began the season No. 1 in The Press Elite 11. But they lost lopsided games to St. Joseph and Hammonton and had to forfeit a win over Oakcrest for using an academically ineligible player. Spirit is now ranked No. 11.
Montclair Kimberley Academy has won a school-record nine games. The Essex County school will be meeting its second Atlantic County team. The Cougars beat Cedar Creek 25-21 on Oct. 22. MKA advanced to the semifinals with a 42-6 win over Queen of Peace last week. MKA quarterback Gabe Dimasi threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Spirit had a first-round bye.
Key players for Montclair Kimberley: Gabe Dimasi, QB, 142-of-193 for 2,386 yards and 31 touchdowns; Max Herrmann, WR, 47 catches for 699 yards and 11 touchdowns; Lawrence Power, RB, 96 carries for 937 yards and eight touchdowns; Mike Sasso, LB, 110 tackles; Gregory Matthew, WR/DB, seven interceptions.
Key players for Holy Spirit: Donta Pollock, RB, 154 carries for 1,027 yards; Nigel Jones (above), RB, 144 carries for 952 yards; Tom Hehre, QB, 49-of-91 for 738 yards; Ethan Gambale, LB, 115 tackles; Dan Mastromatteo, LB, 71 tackles and three sacks; Nico D'Angelo, OL.
Keys to victory: Spirit must cut down on the turnovers and penalties that hurt it in the regular season. Spartans need to pressure Dimasi and slow MKA's passing game. One way to do that is control the ball behind the running of Pollock and Jones.
State Non-Public II semifinal
Who: Third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy (9-1) vs. second-seeded Holy Spirit (5-3)
When/where: 7 p.m. today at Holy Spirit
Admission: $3 adults and $2 students and senior citizens
Radio: 1450 AM
What's next: Winner advances to the state final the weekend of Dec. 2-3 at the College of New Jersey in Ewing Township (Mercer County) against the winner of tonight's other semifinal between top-seeded Camden Catholic (8-0) and fourth-seeded Holy Cross (6-3).