PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The conference's logo is plastered everywhere at Rutgers Stadium, making it impossible to forget that the Big Ten has come to New Jersey.
And when Kareem Walker rushed past one of those logos and into the end zone on the first play from scrimmage Saturday, it was similarly impossible to ignore that Holy Spirit was playing against a New Jersey kid whose future Saturdays will be spent in the Big Ten. Or the SEC. Or pretty much wherever he wants.
Holy Spirit's surprising playoff run ended with a 42-0 loss to Walker and DePaul Catholic in a rain-soaked Non-Public Group 2 title game.
Walker, widely regarded as the Class of 2016's top running back, bounced 57 yards up the right side on his first attempt and added two more scores before the first half was through. He finished with 113 yards on six carries.
"He'll definitely be playing on Sundays," Holy Spirit quarterback Andrew Light said. "He's a monster. He's going to be an NFL running back. Just this experience, and later on in life telling your kids that you played with a kid like that in the state championship game is every bit as rewarding, even though we lost."
It was the second straight title for DePaul (8-4). Holy Spirit (5-7) had won the previous three championships.
"If you get to the finals five straight times, somebody's going to lose some of those games," Holy Spirit coach John Iannucci said. "Those teams we beat weren't bad teams, either."
DePaul Catholic led by 35-0 at halftime, and a running clock was in effect for the second half.
It could have been worse. DePaul was driving with 23 seconds remaining in the first half, but sophomore James Marcheski made a diving interception in the end zone to keep it a five-score game.
Nick Cordivari led Holy Spirit with 85 yards on 11 carries. The Spartans lost their first three games, and four of their first five, but rallied in the playoffs to return to the title game.
It was the first time during the five-year run that they needed to win road games to reach the final.
"We weren't supposed to be here," Light said. "We were an underdog team. We're never an underdog team. We battled tough and made sure the championship still goes through Holy Spirit. I'm blessed to be here today."
Holy Spirit 0 0 0 0 - 0
DePaul Catholic 21 14 0 7 - 42
DC: Kareem Walker 57 run (Bill Hall kick)
DC: Walker 29 run (Hall kick)
DC: Hasise Dubois 44 pass from Ryan Adzima (Hall kick)
DC: Walker 12 run (Hall kick)
DC: Dubois 42 pass from Adzima (Hall kick)
DC: Amir Arrington 1 run (Hall kick)