By Phil Anastasia
Holy Spirit and St. Joseph could have played each next season and in 2015.
Instead, the two Cape-Atlantic League powers will face out-of-state opponents.
Holy Spirit coach John Iannucci announced Saturday that the Spartans will open the next two football seasons with games against Pennsylvania power Malvern Prep.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph is working on arranging a game with an out-of-state team, with long-time power Steubenville, Ohio, looming as a possible opponent for the Wildcats.
St. Joseph also could play St. Joseph Prep or Roman Catholic, both of the Philadelphia Catholic League, if the game with Steubenville isn't worked out.
Holy Spirit was 11-1 last season and ranked No. 2 in South Jersey.
St. Joseph was 11-1 and ranked No. 3.
St. Joseph looms as the likely preseason No. 1 team in South Jersey in 2014.
The Spartans and Wildcats could have played as a cross-over game in the Cape-Atlantic League but Holy Spirit officials preferred to play an outside game.
"Being moved down to the smaller division has only one advantage and that's to play out of state," Iannucci said. "In a different division, we would be glad to play St. Joe's. Not everybody is scared of St. Joes like they think.
"But playing them in our current (division) situation has no benefit if we are to chase the goals of our program."
Holy Spirit and St. Joseph were both in the Cape-Atlantic American last season. But Holy Spirit will move to the Cape National in 2014 and 2015.
Malvern Prep was 8-2 last season with a victory over eventual state champion St. Joe's Prep.
"This shows that not only only does Holy Spirit intend to maintain its place as one of the traditional powers in New Jersey interscholastic football but it intends to continually expand and improve giving our student athletes the best experience and exposure they can have," Iannucci said in a statement. "Hopefully, we will grow to include more high profile games in an attempt to get our athletes and our school national exposure."
Malvern Prep athletic director Kurt Ruch said in a statement: "Malvern Prep is excited to match up with Holy Spirit in football for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The two Catholic schools are rich in tradition and history which should provide fans with a great opportunity to watch some great high school football."
St. Joseph is working to arrange an early-September game at Steubenville, one of the top programs in Ohio. Steubenville was 9-5 last season and won state titles with 15-0 records in 2005 and 2006.
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