ABSECON - Forget about looking for holes to run through.

The Hammonton High School running backs would have settled for just being able to find a teammate when they ran the ball.

Everywhere the Hammonton backs looked, there were Holy Spirit defenders.

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The Spartans, No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, put on a defensive showcase Friday and beat the Blue Devils 28-7 to clinch the Cape-Atlantic League National Division title.

"We compete against ourselves," Spartans linebacker Anthony Sarao said. "It comes to a point where, I don't want to say we're too good for everybody, but what makes us so good is that we compete against ourselves. We say, 'Who is going to get the next tackle? Who is going to get the big play?' "

Holy Spirit (6-0) held Hammonton (4-2) to 9 yards rushing in the game. The Devils had only 3 yards of offense in the first half and their only first down before halftime came on a roughing the kicker penalty.

"Everybody wants that tackle," Sarao said. "Not one person slacks. Everybody wants the tackle and we're so fast."

Sarao, who has committed to Stanford, led the Spartans with 11 tackles, five for a loss, and two sacks. Rocky Figueroa had six tackles with four for a loss and two sacks and Dan Mastromatteo seven tackles with three for a loss and a sack.

The Spartans were dominant defensively, but the Blue Devils still managed to do something no other team has been able to do this season.

Hammonton was the first team to be within a touchdown of Spirit in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Tyler D'Amelio found Robert Barbieri for a 20-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it a 14-7 game.

"I'm very, very proud of our kids," Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta said. "I asked our kids to give everything they had and to give us a shot, and they did. Nobody gave us a chance (to win), but I bet you when it was 14-7, we raised some eyebrows. I hope our kids proved to themselves that they can play with anybody and I'm proud of them."

After a three-and-out by the Spartans, Hammonton had the ball at their own 14-yard line trailing by a touchdown.

But on third-and-long, Figueroa burst into the backfield and sacked D'Amelio, forcing Hammonton to punt.

The Spartans took the ball and marched down the field.

Spirit capped off a five-minute, 11-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Donta Pollock.

The Spartans recovered the ensuing kickoff as Tommy Worthington hit a short squib kick to the right side that Hammonton was unable to recover.

After 15- and 11-yard runs by Nigel Jones, Pollock scored his third touchdown of the game, this time on a 9-yard run to put the game away.

Jones was injured at the beginning of the year but is close to 100 percent now. The two junior running backs form a scary tandem for opposing defenses.

"I like the smash and dash running game that we have," Pollock said. "Everybody knows he's faster and I'm more of a power back, so it's good. We've got the best of both worlds, so you are going to have to come correct when you come to the Spartans."

Pollock knows just how tough his team's defense is. He runs against it in practice every day.

"I know I can't run against that defense because I have run against them," Pollock said with a smile. "Our defense is pretty good. They fly to the ball. It's the best defense I've seen since I was here."

Holy Spirit has now outscored opponents 235-20 this season.

Notes: Pollock finished with 95 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Jones ran for 100 yards on 17 carries. ... D'Amelio finished 7-for-10 for 87 yards. ... The Spartans play at Ocean City next Friday at 7 p.m. Hammonton hosts No. 9 Atlantic City (6-0) next Saturday at noon.

Contact John O'Kane:


Hammonton 0 0 0 7-7

Holy Spirit 7 7 0 14-28


HS - Pollock 3 run (Worthington kick)


HS - Goodwin 6 pass by Callahan (Worthington kick)


H - Barbieri 20 pass by D'Amelio (Sandoval kick)

HS - Pollock 8 run (Worthington kick)

HS - Pollock 9 run (Worthington kick)


Ham Holy Spirit

Rushing 9 238

Passing 87 62

First Downs 9 18

Penalties 5-25 7-79

Turnovers 1 0


Rushing-Hammonton, Alexander 12-24, Rosu 5-5, Sanchez 10-(-3), D'Amelio 3(-17). Holy Spirit, Jones 17-100, Pollock 18-95, Sarao 1-32, Callahan 2-11.

Passing-Hammonton, D'Amelio 7-10-87-0, Crowder 0-1-0-0. Holy Spirit, Callahan 7-16-62-0.

Records-Hammonton 4-2; Holy Spirit 6-0.

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