When this high school football season began most people in South Jersey could count on one thing - St. Joe was going to be playing on Championship weekend.

One thing that was not predicted by many in the area was that they would be joined by Holy Spirit.

 

Today, top-seeded St. Joe (10-0) will play St. Anthony of Jersey City (8-3) for the state Non-Public I championship 4 p.m. Saturday at Kean University.

The Wildcats came in respected and picked by many to breeze through their Cape-Atlantic League American schedule, which they did, stopping in Ohio along the way and beating perennial national power Steubenville High School in Steubenville, Ohio.  In the first round, they breezed by Mater Dei 41-18.

It's been a special season for the Wildcats, who have won five straight state championships and are a heavy favorite to win their sixth today.  The Wildcats are led by running back A'laam Horne who carried 87 times for 1088 yards and 20 touchdowns, adding 20 catches for 293 yards and 4 more scores.  His brother, quarterback Salaam has added 70 carries for 705 yards and 7 scores on top of his 887 yards passing and 12 touchdowns, completing 65-percent of his passes.

Another big weapon for St. Joe is wide out and defensive back Ricardo Quirindongo, maybe the Wildcats most versatile player, he is St. Joe’s leading receiver with 15 catches for 299 yards and five scores and team-high six interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.  Senior C.J. LaFragola is another tough runner with 638 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Overall, the Wildcats average 43.9 points per game, while allowing just 7.8 points, both tops in the Cape-Atlantic League .  As a team St. Joe has scored 50 times running the ball and given up just three rushing touchdowns all season.

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Holy Spirit (5-6) will play No. 2 seed DePaul Catholic (7-4) for the second consecutive year for the state Non-Public IV title 4 p.m. at Rutgers University in Piscataway.

Holy Spirit was in the middle of a rebuilding year with losses to Cedar Creek, Buena and Oakcrest, unheard of for the mighty Spartans during their recent run of success. However, Holy Spirit got it together at the right time and has ripped off two straight playoff wins, including an upset of top-seeded and previously undefeated Holy Cross 54-36 in the semifinals to set-up this rematch with DePaul Catholic.

On offense, the Spartans run the wing-T led by senior quarterback Andrew Light, who has thrown for nine touchdowns and 734 yards.  Light is also the top ground gainer for the Spartans with  852 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Also in the Spartans back field is freshman Qwashin Townsel who has four touchdowns and 428 yards from his fullback position. Running back Nick Cordivari has 504 yards and six scores

Wide out Jordan Taylor is one of the best receivers in the Cape, with 28 grabs for 434 yards and six touchdowns.

While both teams entered this season with different expectations, they are both right back in a familiar place, playing for state championships.