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UPDATED: Football: Russo in, Iannucci out at Holy Spirit

By Phil Anastasia

The wheel spun quickly at Holy Spirit High School on Friday.

First thing in the morning, John Iannucci announced his resignation as football coach, citing "minor" health issues.

By noon, A.J. Russo had been named the Spartans' new head coach.

"I'm very excited," said Russo, a 1981 Holy Spirit graduate who played football for the Spartans and at Gettysburg College.

Russo is Holy Spirit's Information Technology chief. He took the position in the summer upon retiring after 25 years in the field working for Atlantic County.

Russo was a youth football coach for the Ventor Pirates for several years.

He said he plans to play "power football" with a "Shotgun, Double-Wing" offense.

Russo said his connections with youth football coaches and with alumni should help make Holy Spirit an attractive place for eighth-grade players and their parents.

"The connections should help," Russo said.

Holy Spirit athletic director Jay Connell said Russo should be able to re-engage the Spartan alumni.

"He's a great for us," Connell said. "We have to get the alumni back. They've been missing the last couple years."

Iannucci led Holy Spirit to three consecutive state championship games. His first team won the Non-Public 2 state title in 2012.

Iannucci was 24-12 in three seasons at the school in Absecon, Atlantic County. His 2014 team started 0-3 and 1-4 but rallied to advance to the Non-Public 2 title game, losing to DePaul Catholic.

Along the way, Holy Spirit stunned top-seeded and undefeated Holy Cross by a 54-36 score on Nov. 21. Holy Spirit finished 5-7 this season.

Iannucci praised Holy Spirit's students.

"I have really enjoyed the students and athletes at Holy Spirit," Iannucci said. "They were the reason I came here and they did not disappoint me. They are my sole regret in leaving.

"The players and the players alone were the reason we were able to go to three straight state finals."

Iannucci's first team in 2012 went 8-4 and won the Non-Public 2 title with a 30-6 win over Immaculata. His 2013 team went 11-1, losing its final game to DePaul Catholic in the Non-Public 2 title game.

"I want to coach," Iannucci said in a telephone interview. "Hopefully, I'll be back on the sideline again next season."

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