Smith’s Record Day Leads Holy Spirit Spartans
EGG HARBOR CITY — During the first half of Holy Spirit’s dominating 41-0 victory over host Cedar Creek on Saturday, veteran sports reporter Mike McGarry of the Press of Atlantic City mused out loud that senior running back Devin Lee could probably rush for more than 1,000 yards and 30 touchdowns if he wore a uniform other than the Navy-and-gold of the Spartans.
He’s probably right.
Lee has spent much of his career in the shadows of 2020 graduate E’lijah Gray and current senior star Patrick Smith, a Colorado State University recruit. But, then again, it’s easy to get overlooked when all Smith does on the afternoon is rush for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns.
“It’s just a rotation, man. Patrick, he gets all the first carries but if he goes for a long run deep into the opposing team’s territory, I come in and get the clean-up, then he comes back in and gets a touchdown. He’s a big body who can run you over and beat you with speed, where as me, I’m more of a speed guy. I have to juke guys,” Lee explained. “He’s been like a mentor to me. I watch him, analyze what he can do, and take that and try to apply it to my game and do like he does.”
Smith had more than 250 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns before halftime as Holy Spirit (2-0) built up a 28-0 lead by intermission against a rebuilding Cedar Creek (0-2) squad that won the Central Jersey Group 2 championship a year ago but has a lot of new starters on the defensive side. Smith racked up 362 yards — a single game record among Cape-Atlantic League schools — and scored all four first-half touchdowns, on runs of 22, 47, 48 and 6 yards. Yadiel Feliciano provided the extra points on all four, and finished 5-of-6 on the day. Smith racked up his yardage on 30 carries, for a whopping 12 yards per carry.
“Our offensive line did an amazing job today. In the last game our offense didn’t do as well as we wanted to, but we still got the win. But today, we all really pulled through,” said Lee, who scored a pair of second-half touchdowns on runs of 2 and 6 yards and finished with 45 yards on eight carries. “Through practice this whole week we’ve really been working well together on offense. With the way we practice and work every day, I think we can win all the games on our schedule.”
Holy Spirit’s defense was just as good, as Cedar Creek never really threatened and there was a running clock throughout the fourth quarter.
“We really get intense during practice, and we practice with a sense of urgency. We feel like we have to keep pushing every day. Guys like Ai’Johnnie Rembert and Markus Lewis, they’ve been like diamonds in the rough. All they had to do was keep practicing and practicing, and eventually that starts showing in the games,” said junior linebacker Michael Francisco. “We all feed off each other because we’re a family. We’re hyped up and that’s what we’re trying to be all the time. We just have to keep doing it over and over in practice at the highest level we can.”