The NJSIAA's Non-Public football classifications left some coaches upset.
Chalie Roman wasn't angry.
He was past that point.
"I'm completely sick about it," Holy Spirit's football coach said about the reclassifications for Non-Public football tournaments that the NJSIAA unveiled on Wednesday.
Paul Sacco was just plain disappointed.
"We're back to Square 1," said Sacco, the football coach at St. Joseph of Hammonton.
Holy Spirit is the defending Non-Public 3 state champion. The Spartans won the title with a dramatic victory over North Jersey power St. Joseph of Montvale in December at Rutgers.
Roman says his 2011 team "will be even better."
But the Spartans won't get a chance to defend their Non-Public 3 title. That's because they've been moved down to Non-Public 2.
Camden Catholic and Bishop Eustace also were moved down to Non-Public 2 from Non-Public 3 in the realignment.
St. Joseph, the defending Non-Public 1-2 champion, was moved down to Non-Public 1.
"It's very disappointing," Sacco said.
Roman said the NJSIAA had the perfect opportunity to create three deep, competitive Non-Public groups after Non-Public 1 and Non-Public 2 were combined into one group because of a shortage of .500-or-better teams in 2010.
"They had an opportunity, and they blew it," Roman said. "There are 37 [Non-Public] teams. They could have done three 12-team groups. They could have made it something special.
"But instead, they go back to four groups, and in the bottom two groups, you wonder if four teams are even going to be .500 and make the tournament.
"If we're the No. 1 seed and only two other teams are .500, we'll get a first-round bye and end up playing 10 games instead of 11 or 12. They turned it into a joke."
After Holy Spirit beat St. Joseph of Montvale in last season's Non-Public 3 title game and North Jersey power Immaculata in the 2007 Non-Public 3 final, Roman believes his team can compete with many of the best programs in the state.
But under the new alignment, Non-Public 2 is skewed toward South Jersey. Bishop Eustace, Camden Catholic, Gloucester Catholic, Holy Cross, and Holy Spirit are members of the group, along with smaller, traditionally less-competitive North Jersey schools such as Marist, Montclair Kimberley, Pingry, and Queen of Peace.
"I feel bad for our kids," Roman said. "They've proven they can play with the good North Jersey teams, and now they're not going to get the chance."
Sacco said St. Joseph has been in Non-Public 1 in many previous seasons when just two or three teams from that group have qualified for the state tournament.
"Sometimes we get a bye, and we're playing for the state title before Thanksgiving," Sacco said. "I wish they would have just stayed with three groups like they had last year. It was a much better situation."
Holy Spirit and St. Joseph should be among the top two or three teams in South Jersey next season. Holy Spirit will be led by linebacker Dan Mastromatteo, who recently committed to North Carolina, as well as heavily recruited running back Nigel Jones.
St. Joseph's top recruit is outside linebacker Kaiwan Lewis, who has offers from Virginia, Rutgers, Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida State, and Auburn, according to Rivals.com.