ATLANTIC CITY - Donta Pollock shook his head when he first saw the bright yellow jerseys he and his Holy Spirit High School football teammates wore Thursday morning.
Pollock thought the look was less than flattering
Who ordered the jerseys?
"I'm still looking for the answer to that question," Pollock said.
The Spartans overcame their sartorial challenges and beat Atlantic City 28-6 in the 83rd meeting between the schools. Pollock rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns - all in the first half.
Spirit always wears new jerseys on Thanksgiving. In the past, those jerseys have been green or gold.
Spirit coach Charles Roman said the yellow jerseys were throwback uniforms to the ones the Spartans wore in the mid-1980s. The best that can be said about them Thursday is that they didn't go unnoticed.
"Obviously, the way you look doesn't (affect) the way you play," Pollock said.
Spirit-Atlantic City is Atlantic County's oldest rivalry. The schools first met in 1926. Atlantic City leads the series 48-31-4, but the Spartans have won seven straight and eight of the last nine games.
Spirit (7-3) methodically pulled away from Atlantic City (6-4) on Thursday.
The Spartans controlled the game behind the running of Pollock and Nigel Jones (10 carries for 88 yards). The two ran right at the Vikings' defense. That was no surprise. Pollock and Jones, both seniors, have each rushed for more than 4,000 yards in their careers.
"We couldn't stop their run game," Vikings coach Thomas Kelly said. "This is a weight room game. If I was coaching against us, I would have run straight at us. We knew that was their game plan. We were overmatched in certain areas. The remedy for this to have a (productive) offseason, so we can compete.
"We have the athletes to compete with anybody. We have to build up that weight program."
Despite the dominance of Pollock and Jones, it was a pass play that helped Spirit take control of the game.
Spartans quarterback Tom Hehre threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Liam Nolan with 19.5 seconds left in the second quarter to give Spirit a 21-6 halftime lead.
"There's nothing better than getting a touchdown on Thanksgiving Day," Nolan said.
Nolan entered Thursday's game with 13 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns for the season. Wide receivers don't see much action on a team with running backs like Pollock and Jones.
"Every once in a awhile I get a chance to make a play," Nolan said, "and it's important that I do."
When Nolan does hear a pass called in the huddle, he tries hard not smile so he doesn't tip off the defense.
"I get excited," he said, "but I try not to show it."
One of Atlantic City's few memorable moments came on its first possession. Quarterback Jarren McBryde scrambled for a 40-yard gain to set up Domaneek Hurd's 6-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first quarter.
The score cut Spirit's lead to 7-6. The Spirit defense shut down the Vikings from there. Spartans defensive back Joe DiBonaventura made three tackles for losses.
Spirit linebackers Jeff Steeb and Dan Mastromatteo also tackled ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage. The Spartans gathered around the Boyd-Marczyk Trophy for pictures after the game. The trophy, which is named after late coaches Stan Marczyk of Holy Spirit and John Boyd of Atlantic City, is presented to the winner.
Atlantic City's season is over, but the Spartans, No. 11 in The Press Elite 11, will play Camden Catholic for the state non-Public II title on Dec. 2 at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township (Mercer County). Spirit struggled at times this season but has won four straight games by the combined score of 169-25.
"We've started a lot of sophomores this year," Roman said. "They've really grown up. When you have that odd mix of experienced guys with inexperienced guys you have some breakdowns sometimes. But I think we're beyond that and we're playing our best football right now."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Holy Spirit 14 7 7 0-28
Atlantic City 6 0 0 0-6
HS-Pollock 8 run (Worthington kick)
AC- Hurd 6 run (kick missed)
HS-Pollock 6 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Nolan 13 pass from Hehre (Worthington kick)
HS-Gerald 5 run (Worthington kick)
Rushing-Holy Spirit, Pollock 19-112, Jones 10-88. Atlantic City, Tolbert 8-51.
Passing-Holy Spirit, Hehre 4-12-0-85. Atlantic City, McBryde 1-7-0-19.
Receiving-Holy Spirit, Nolan 4-85. Atlantic City, D. Reynolds 1-19.
Records-Holy Spirit 7-3; Atlantic City 6-4