GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Donta Pollock seeks out would-be tacklers.
The 5-foot-10, 201-pound Holy Spirit High School running back doesn't bother with finesse moves. He lowers his shoulder, keeps his legs turning and runs right over defenders.
Pollock rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns as Spirit beat Absegami 42-7 in a highly anticipated Cape-Atlantic League interdivision game Friday night.
Holy Spirit (2-0) is No. 1 in The Press' Elite 11. Absegami (1-1) is No. 3.
"If you get in my path," Pollock said, "that's your fault. I'm not going to avoid anybody. I'll ram it right in there."
Spirit quarterback Joe Callahan threw four touchdown passes and linebackers Anthony Sarao and Dan Mastromatteo and safety Joe Sarnese sparked a stingy defense.
But it was Pollock's runs that set the game's tone. He rushed for 57 yards on eight carries in the opening quarter.
"That's who we want to be - a physical team," Spirit coach Charles Roman said. "Donta brings that to the table every time he touches the ball."
The game was the most anticipated of the young season. Both teams have the talent to win playoff titles this season. Both have been among the CAL's top programs the past five years.
The crowd at Absegami filled the home and visiting bleachers and many more fans stood along the fence that surrounds the field.
The Spartans took control with three touchdowns in the second quarter to build a 21-0 halftime lead.
Callahan (7-of-12 of 169 yards) threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Domaneek Hurd on the first play of the second quarter.
Callahan set up Spirit's second touchdown with a 54-yard completion to Andrew DiPasquale on a slant pattern. Pollock bulled his way across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown with 8 minutes, 1 second left in the second quarter to give Spirit a 14-0 lead.
Spirit's final touchdown of the quarter came on a nine-play, 65-yard drive. Pollock carried the ball on the drive's last five plays, including a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:23 left before halftime.
Meanwhile, the Spirit defense shutdown an Absegami offense, which featured Rutgers University-bound running back Ben Martin (19 carries for 47 yards) and talented sophomore quarterback Rashad Kinlaw.
"We knew we had to stop (Martin) and (Kinlaw) before they got started," Roman said. "We blitzed non-stop, tried to penetrate and stop them in the backfield.
Sarao, who was supposed to be slowed by a pair of sprained ankles, was the quickest player on the field with four tackles for losses.
"That's not smoke," Roman said. "The kid is hurting."
Sarao, who is headed to Stanford University, said adrenalin helped him play through his injuries.
He was far from Spirit's only defensive standout.
Mastromatteo had three tackles for a loss. Linebacker Rocky Figueroa also tackled an Absegami ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage. Sarnese and fellow safety Jarren McBryde rattled ball carriers with hard hits.
Absegami had minus-7 rushing yards in the first half.
"They have a lot of really good players," Absegami coach Dennis Scuderi Jr. said. "We have a good football team. By no means are we going to let this define us. I think we have the talent to make a run (at a championship). I don't know how many teams in South Jersey are going to be able to play with them."
Even more impressive than the score was how crisply Spirit played. This was summer's last Friday, but Spirit played like it was late November.
"Everything is run smoothly," Sarao said. "It seems like we're in the playoffs already."
Big games loom for Spirit. There is an Oct. 1 showdown with rival St. Joseph, No. 5 in The Elite 11. There are potential playoff matches with northern New Jersey powers.
But on Friday, Pollock and the rest of the Spartans proved for now they are the CAL's top team.
"We're just going to get better," Sarao said. "That's the scary part."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Holy Spirit 0 21 7 14 - 42
Absegami 0 0 0 7 - 7
HS - Goodwin 10 pass from Callahan (Worthington kick)
HS - Pollock 1 run (Worthington kick)
HS - Pollock 7 run (Worthington kick)
HS - Sarnese 25 pass from Callahan (Worthington kick)
HS - Sarnese 34 pass from Callahan (Worthington kick)
HS - DiPasquale 19 pass from Callahan (Worthington kick)
AB - Chance 11 pass from Kinlaw (Collette kick)
First Downs - Holy Spirit 12; Absegami 7.
Rushing yards - Holy Spirit 181; Absegami 33.
Passing yards - Holy Spirit 169; Abssegami 75.
Turnovers - Holy Spirit 0; Absegami 0.
Rushing - Pollock 27-146, Jones 7-29, Callahan 1-6 HS.; Martin 19-47, Kinlaw 10-(-15), Chance 2-1 AB.
Passing - Callahan 7-12-0-169 HS. Kinlaw 7-13-0-75 AB.
Receiving - Goodwin 1-10, DiPasquale 2-73, Sarnese 4-86 HS.; Bing 2-17, Collazzo 2-32, Chance 1-11, Martin 1-5, Witmer 1-10.
RECORDS - Holy Spirrit 2-0; Absegami 1-1.