Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Depaul Stands Tall

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Depaul Stands Tall

Article excerpt

PISCATAWAY -- DePaul got the last word on the 2013 football season, and it's probably not the last time the Spartans will get the last word on a season.

Led by a stiff defense and the dangerous running back tandem of senior Markey Clark and sophomore Kareem Walker, the Spartans claimed the Non-Public Group 2 state title Sunday with a 35-16 defeat of previously undefeated Holy Spirit at Rutgers.

The Spartans' title, their first since 1992, gives North Jersey teams three of the four Non-Public titles, and another North Jersey program, St. Mary of Rutherford, was in the Non-Public Group 1 final.

If there aren't going to be public school state Group champions in New Jersey, the best barometer to see where the best football is played would have to be the Non-Public brackets, and that shows it's no contest.

For DePaul, however, this is kind of new. Their rise in 2013 became one of the biggest stories in North Jersey football this season. They have given credence to the idea that North Jersey football is more than a Big Four; dare we say a Big Five?

"It's been amazing," said DePaul fullback Stephen Speidel. "My four years here, every year we got better and better. As a freshman, I remember my head coach telling me that senior year we would win a state championship. I believed him, and look at us now."

With Don Bosco and St. Joseph gobbling up state titles like candy the last decade, Bergen Catholic having a grand tradition and Paramus Catholic making its big leap two years ago, it's been easy to overlook the school in Wayne.

Last season the Spartans didn't qualify for the Group 3 playoffs, even though they were clearly one of the better teams in North Jersey.

But that's the perils of playing in the Big North United Division, like DePaul does. What the Spartans have learned, and what the rest of New Jersey would find out if some schools would step up, is that playing against St. Joe's and Paramus Catholic consistently only makes you better.

This season, DePaul clearly benefitted from dropping down to Group 2. The school has the largest enrollment in the group, but the team still had to play against the rest of the United Division in the regular season. …

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