Unbeaten Holy Spirit is the latest Cape-Atlantic League team to finish No. 1 in The Inquirer's South Jersey football rankings.
The Spartans, who capped their 12-0 season with a 26-13 win over Immaculata in the Non-Public Group 3 state final Saturday, finished No. 1 for the first time since 1990.
Spirit is the sixth Cape team to finish No. 1 in the last 12 seasons, joining St. Joseph in 2006, Mainland in 2002 and 1997, Atlantic City in 1999, and Ocean City in 1996.
The convincing victory over previously undefeated Immaculata (11-1) gave Spirit its first NJSIAA football title since 1991.
"The coaches told us we had to play the perfect game, and I think we came pretty close," said Spartans linebacker Chris Mancuso, who turned in a dominating performance. "I think it was our best overall effort, considering the stage."
Spirit, with 502 points, became the second school in South Jersey history to score more than 500 in a season. The record is 506 points, by Paulsboro in 2001.
Moorestown (12-0), which won the Central Jersey Group 3 title with an impressive 20-6 victory over Long Branch, finished No. 2 in the final rankings.
Spirit began the year No. 3 in the preseason rankings. Moorestown was listed as "under consideration."
Only two schools that finished in the top 10 were not in the original rankings or under consideration: No. 9 Glassboro and No. 10 Williamstown.
Hail, Gloucester County.
With Glassboro of Group 1 and West Deptford of Group 2 winning South Jersey crowns, a Gloucester County school has captured a sectional title in 22 straight seasons.
The last time a Gloucester County school did not win a title was in 1985, when the champions were Florence of Group 1, Hammonton of Group 2, Willingboro of Group 3, Cherokee of Group 4, Bishop Ahr of Parochial A, and St. Joseph of Parochial B.
This year marked the third time in South Jersey history that at least three teams had 12-0 seasons . Holy Spirit, Moorestown and Glassboro were the teams.
There were four 12-0 teams in 2004 (West Deptford, Shawnee, Florence and Schalick), and three in 2003 (Deptford, West Deptford and Florence).
Since the NJSIAA expanded the playoffs to eight-team fields in 1998 - making it possible to play 12 games - 17 area teams have finished with 12-0 records.
Rick Tunstall, a junior wide receiver and cornerback who had 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, helped spark Glassboro to its undefeated season.
Tunstall, who had nine touchdown receptions, became the 17th non-back in South Jersey history to score at least 100 points in a season, according to football historian Chuck Langerman. Tunstall finished with 103 points, including two touchdowns on interception returns and two on punt returns.
Holy Spirit's Pat Schell, a 6-foot-3, 325-pound senior tackle who figures to be playing at a Division I college next year, says he and his fellow offensive linemen (average weight: 277 pounds) are like brothers. They hang out together on and off the field.
"I know everything about every one of them," he said with a smile. "I know things I don't want to know. I know things I want to forget."
One of the best scenes at the weekend finals: seeing the mammoth Schell literally pick up and carry diminutive teammates Michael Blee and Andrew McElroy in each arm - holding them like loaves of bread - to join the victory celebration in the middle of the field.
In its win over Long Branch, Moorestown gained 208 rushing yards on 34 carries (6.1 yards per attempt), while Long Branch gained just 65 yards on 38 attempts (1.7 per carry).
It was Moorestown's third sectional title; the others were won in 2000 and 1975.
Holy Spirit senior running back William Washington scored 226 points and won the South Jersey scoring title for the second straight season. Washington said he had received inquiries from Temple, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Boston College. ... St. Joseph's Norman White finished with 598 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions; he also had five interceptions. ... Of all the sectional or state champions, Shawnee (9-3) made the biggest turnaround from last year (4-6). ... Moorestown senior Jon Lefferts and Cumberland sophomore Ryan Stant each kicked a South Jersey-best eight field goals. Lefferts finished with 74 kicking points, tying him for second on the all-time single-season kicking list, according to Langerman, the historian. The record is 80 points, by West Deptford's Jake Brownell in 2004. ... Glassboro outscored its opponents by 456-56, including a 289-34 margin in the first half. ... Two sophomore quarterbacks from the Cape-Atlantic League had impressive seasons. Middle Township's Nolan Quinn threw for 1,635 yards and 19 touchdowns, while St. Augustine's Dustin Thomas threw for 1,405 yards and 16 TDs.