With only hours to go before the Holy Spirit football team plays its first game of the 2019 state playoffs, the football program, school, fans and community are in mourning after hearing the news this morning that former head coach and longtime assistant Bill Walsh has passed away after a long battle with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“Adapt. Adjust. Overcome. That’s what he taught us. That’s what we will do,” Athletic Director Steve Normane said via text message moments ago. “He was the ultimate Spartan. He touched all of us, he made us all better.”

Walsh’s fight against the disease captivated the South Jersey landscape the past few years, inspiring “Walshy’s Warriors”, a group dedicated to raising money for ALS research through an annual flag football tournament at the school, as well as other events. Other high school football teams, youth teams and even players and fans from other sports donated to the cause and proudly wore their Walsh’s Warriors T-shirts.

His daugther, Kelly, a senior field hockey and softball player at Holy Spirit, and wife Cindy were on hand this past summer when Walsh’s No. 16, which he wore as a player at Spirit, was officially retired. During tonight’s game, the Spartans will wear special helmet logos that feature the Spartan on one side and Walsh’s No. 16 on the other.

Walsh was a 1985 graduate of the school and played middle linebacker, then took over as head coach in 2003. The Spartans won a state title in 2007 and Walsh stepped down after that season, but returned as an assistant in 2015 under current head coach A.J. Russo.

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