By Phil Anastasia
Training camp confidential: Holy Spirit
Coach: John Iannucci
Last year: 11-1, won Cape American, lost to DePaul Catholic in Non-Public 2 state title game
Schedule: at Malvern Prep (Sept. 5), bye, at Bridgeton, Cedar Creek, at Middle Twp., at Buena, at Pleasantville, bye, Lower Cape May, Oakcrest, Atlantic City (Thanksgiving).
Player to watch: Senior two-way lineman T.J. Clayton (pictured). The 6-1, 250-pound Clayton is a four-year varsity player and three-year starter for the Spartans. He is one of the few returning veterans for a team that lost 22 seniors from last year's conference title team. Clayton is a versatile player who contributes as an offensive guard, defensive end and long snapper. He's a team captain who will be charged with providing leadership for the rebuilding Spartans. "Everyone says, 'You're a leader now,'" Clayton said. "It's extra pressure but I like the responsibility. I know I have to step up."
Outlook: This is a season of change for the Spartans. Not only is the team in rebuilding mode after losing so many key seniors, the Spartans also have moved down to the Cape National division as part of the CAL's re-alignment for football. The result is a schedule that will not challenge the Spartans nearly as much as in the past. As a result, Holy Spirit could fashion an impressive record this season, even though the team, on paper, won't be nearly as strong as some Spartan squads of revent vintage. Clayton leads a front line that also should include junior Shawn Coursey (6-4, 260), who has been battling an illness in the preseason. Other key veterans include senior WR Jordan Taylor (6-5, 200), junior lineman Anthony Dobronte (6-3, 250) and senior QB Andrew Light (6-1, 195), who played well last season when former starter T.J. Anderson was injured. The strength of the program is in the sophomore and freshmen classes. Among the sophomores who could make an impact is RB/DB Justin Figueroa (5-11, 185) and among the freshmen to watch are speedy Josh Coursey, Shawn's brother, and Lee Dawson, former star A.J.'s brother.
Fast fact: Holy Spirit is 66-14 with four state titles in the last seven seasons.
Quote: "People think because we lost 22 seniors that we're not going to be any good. But we don't rebuild at Holy Spirit. We find ways to win games. I love the fact that people are overlooking us," Clayton said.
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