After seven years leading the Holy Spirit Spartans football program, head coach A.J. Russo is taking a step back.

Russo announced on Friday though a press release, that he is stepping down as the teams head coach, but that he will remain with the program as an assistant.

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“Over the past seven years I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to be the Head Coach at Holy Spirit," Russo said through a press release. "Working at a school where the administration, faculty, alumni, students, our coaching staff and players truly care about everyone around them is what makes Holy Spirit High School special. I want to thank former Principal Susan Dennen and former Athletic Director Jay Connell for hiring me, current Principal Tom Farren and Athletic Director Steve Normane for allowing me to do what I love to do and our President Father Perry Cherubini who has been fully supportive of myself and our staff."

Russo, a Ventnor resident, leaves the role of head coach with a 50-26 record, winning the 2019 Non Public Group II State Championship, claiming the unofficial South Jersey Championship in 2020, and winning three WJFL division titles.

Per the release, Russo cited spending more time with his family after a bout with bladder and colon cancer in 2018 opened his eyes to the fact that time is precious, and there is no better use of that time than spending it with family.

"While my health is fine, being diagnosed with colon and bladder cancer in November of 2018 made me realize how fragile life is and that spending time and making memories with your home family is very important," Russo stated through a release. "Both of our children live out of state, Erin in Florida and AJ in Pennsylvania. Over the past 7 years my wife Rhonda and I have not had much time to visit with them. I want to thank my family for their patience and understanding and now I will have more free time with them."

2011 Holy Spirit graduate and former Spartans player, Andrew DiPasquale will be the next Holy Spirit Football Head Coach per the release. DiPasquale has been with the Spartans football program since 2015 as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach for Russo.

The Somers Point resident played both football and baseball at the Absecon school, winning two state championships in football, in 2007 and 2010.

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