PISCATAWAY, N.J. - In Holy Spirit coach John Iannucci's view, there were two problems for his football team in the Non-Public Group 2 title game on Sunday.
One was DePaul Catholic, which showcased its speed, strength, and skill in a 35-16 victory over Holy Spirit.
The other was Holy Spirit's own play.
"We probably played our worst game," Iannucci said. "That's my fault. I didn't have us prepared to play."
On a snowy afternoon at Rutgers, senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, a Villanova recruit, ran 10 times for 108 yards and a touchdown and was 8 for 11 passing for 118 yards and another score for DePaul (10-2).
DePaul, which generated 427 yards of offense, also got good work from senior running back Markey Clarke (11 carries, 100 yards) and sophomore running back Kareem Walker (19 carries, 98 yards, touchdown), who has an offer from Penn State.
"We didn't tackle," Iannucci said. "We must have missed 40 tackles."
Iannucci said Holy Spirit ran into a "North Jersey buzz saw" in a DePaul team that beat Don Bosco Prep and lost competitive games to Non-Public 4 champion Paramus Catholic and Non-Public 3 champion St. Joseph of Montvale.
"It's a different animal up here," Iannucci said. "This is not Millville, Egg Harbor, Cherokee. There's not an equivalent team in South Jersey."
Seniors A.J. Dawson and Franco Rifici played strong games for Holy Spirit (11-1), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 25.
Senior linebacker Jeff Steeb made 10 tackles for Holy Spirit, which was seeking its fourth straight state title.
"We didn't finish plays," Dawson said. "They had a lot of speed, a lot of strength, and they finished plays."
Of DePaul, Rifici said: "We couldn't simulate their speed and strength in practice."
Iannucci noted that Holy Spirit went 39-8 during the seniors' four seasons.
"I'd go in a foxhole with these guys anytime," Iannucci said.
DePaul 6 13 3 13 - 35
Holy Spirit 0 0 0 16 - 16
D: Stephen Speidel 4 run (kick fail)
D: Speidel 3 run (Riley Clark kick)
D: Hasise Diboise 16 pass from Zach
Bednarczyk (kick fail)
D: FG Clark 28
HS: Franco Rifici 8 run (Joe DiBuonaventura
pass from Jeff Steeb)
D: Kareem Walker 7 run (kick fail)
D: Bednarczyk 15 run (Clark kick)
HS: A.J. Dawson 1 run (Taalib Gerald run)