"I feel like the school was missing something without it," Saints running back Colby Phillips said. "You can definitely tell that the spirits in the school are lifted since we turned varsity. ... It was very exciting, an energy we haven't seen in a while."
Phillips scored the second touchdown for the Saints (0-1) with an 80-yard run, while Kalen Oswalt and Williams Collins connected for Holy Spirit's first score.
The game marked an important milestone for Tuscaloosa Academy (1-0) as well, it was the school's first sporting event since moving to the AHSAA from AISA. The Knights are coming off a run to the AISA state championship game last season.
Knights coach Josh Wright was happy to get the victory but wants his team to fix mistakes.
"I was proud of our seniors, proud of all the kids," Wright said. "We made a lot of mistakes, we got to clean up a lot of stuff. The effort was there. ... I was proud of the win, proud of the effort, glad to get that one under our belt."
Jadyn Howard scored the Knights' first points in AHSAA with a 4-yard run to end the first drive. Howard rushed for 55 yards while adding another score. Luke Kilgore scored on a 55-yard punt return.
Kilgore sees the move to AHSAA for the Knights as a chance to build local more rivalries, including one with the Saints.
"I like that a lot better," Kilgore said. "I know a couple of the guys over there (Holy Spirit), they're my friends and It's really fun to do that. ... I expect a rivalry because we got a couple games in town, home or away."
The Knights travel to American Christian Academy and the Saints host South Lamar next week.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Tuscaloosa Academy wins in AHSAA debut, spoils Holy Spirit's return