Holy Spirit High School defensive players sometimes argue who will make the most tackles in an upcoming game.

"Before games we joke around," said linebacker Jeff Steeb. "I try to win the argument."

Steeb, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior, is one of the region's top linebackers. He's a leader of a Holy Spirit defense that has allowed just one touchdown in its last three games.

Steeb has picked off two passes this season, returning one for a 25-yard touchdown in last week's 18-0 win over Absegami. Steeb's return was one of two touchdowns the Spartans' defense scored against the Braves.

Steeb, who lives in the Sweetwater section of Mullica Township, started as a sophomore for a Spirit team that finished 8-3 and won the state Non-Public II title last season. He is already attracting attention from several colleges, including Boston College, Rutgers and Maryland.

Holy Spirit, No. 11 in The Press Elite 11, has won two straight. The Spirit (2-2) defense will face another challenge tonight when it hosts Millville (2-2) at 7 p.m. today.

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Steeb spoke about a number of topics, including Spirit's comeback from its 0-2 start.

On Spirit's defensive success: We just like to stay in our gaps. We try not to do to much. We try to build off each other and make plays. We just love going out there, stopping teams and getting the ball back to our offense. We try to be a disciplined defense and always be in the right spot at the right time.

On the defense scoring touchdowns: It's real big. It gets us pumped up. We're always trying to go out and make big plays.

On Spirit's 0-2 start: It was tough. We had a lot of people looking at us saying we weren't going to be special this year. But we just stood together as a family. After the two losses, we got back on our feet and started winning. We have some momentum but we have a tough game (tonight).

On starting as a sophomore last season: It was great. It was a great atmosphere playing with (the seniors). A lot of them went on to play college football. I'm just taking what I learned from them and bringing it out (on the field) this year.

On colleges showing interest in him: It's great. It's a good feeling to have colleges looking at you.

As told to Michael McGarry