Year In Review: Holy Spirit Spartans
A memorable year of Holy Spirit High School sports has come to a close. The 2011-’12 school year featured impressive performances from various Spartans programs and players.
As senior standouts move on to the next stage of their lives, including those who will continue to participate in sports at the college level, it’s time to look back at a few of the teams and athletes who made a lasting impact on Holy Spirit’s athletic legacy.
Spartans repeat as South Jersey champs
Holy Spirit reigned supreme once again in 2011. Led by a punishing rushing attack and aggressive defense, the team bulldozed through the playoffs on its way to another South Jersey Non-Public group title.
The Spartans’ run reached its conclusion in early December at The College of New Jersey. Holy Spirit dismantled Camden Catholic, 51-7, to claim a second consecutive championship.
Teams that win back-to-back championships in any sport demand the denotation of “dynasty.” The Spartans certainly put in the effort and made the necessary plays along the way.
Holy Spirit was spearheaded by senior running backs Nigel Jones and Donta Pollock, who punished opposing defenses and combined for nearly 3,000 total rushing yards and 36 touchdowns.
Jones is the kind of runner who beats you with speed and lateral movement, while Pollock enjoys taking on contact and shoving would-be tacklers to the turf. The duo – dubbed “Smash and Dash” – became the first classmates in state history to each account for more than 4,000 career yards.
Fullback Zach Fabel said he will fondly remember the days he spent lead-blocking for the talented duo.
“Every play was exciting because I knew that just one key block could spring a touchdown run at any time,” said Fabel, days after winning his second title.
The Holy Spirit defensive unit made strides over the course of the season, solidifying the Spartans’ status as one of the top teams in southern New Jersey. Only three defensive starters returned from the 2010 championship squad, but the group gelled quickly and became strength.
Senior linebacker Dan Mastromatteo, who will play at University of North Carolina this fall, steadied the inexperienced defense early and was a relentless force throughout the season.
The Spartans move on after seeing a great group of seniors graduate and must adjust to a changing roster. Another championship certainly won’t come easy, but you can bet that new head coach John Iannucci will have Holy Spirit ready for another run in 2012.
(Click here to read the rest of this story by Tyler Donohue)