Warren doesn't need any consolation prizes, but it did get a second-half victory on Friday.
Maine South, led by Northwestern-bound quarterback Matt Alviti, put on an offensive show in the first half, but the host Blue Devils regrouped on defense and held their own after halftime. Warren scored two late touchdowns and lost to the state's top-ranked team 28-14.
"I told my teammates that we can use this as motivation," Warren senior safety Ryan Sweeney said. "Last year, we weren't nearly as good as we are right now and it makes us that much hungrier to win every other game we've got."
Maine South started this season with some special motivation. After winning three state titles from 2008-10, the Hawks' bid for four straight ended last season with a second-round playoff loss to Stevenson.
On the first play of Friday's game, senior running back Clay Burdelik burst up the middle for a 40-yard gain. Six plays later, Burdelik scored on a 1-yard plunge.
A fumble and penalty ruined Maine South's next possession. In the second quarter the Hawks drove 96 yards in 14 plays to make it 14-0. Alviti then hit George Sajenko for a 26-yard touchdown pass and the visitors were rolling with a 21-0 lead.
The score didn't change, though, for more than two full quarters. With Warren focused on taking away the big plays, Alviti completed 21 of 31 passes for 189 yards. He hit nine different receivers and 15 of his completions went for less than 10 yards.
"Definitely a disappointment," Alviti said. "You want to come out in the second half and be even more sharp, because you make adjustments. We just didn't execute and do the little things right."
In the second half, the Blue Devils stopped Maine South inside the 5-yard line and Roderick Pompey blocked a field-goal attempt. The Hawks were forced to punt and missed another field goal before finally scoring again on a 2-yard run by Anthony Mitchell with 4:13 left in the game.
"We came out with a lot of intensity, then Alviti took the ball straight down our throats the first drive," Sweeney said. "That kind of shut us down. We came out at half, went over checks and changed some things around and were able to stop their offense."
Warren had a chance to get back in the game after Sweeney recovered a muffed punt return early in the third quarter. The Devils registered a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line, but a procedure penalty moved them back and quarterback Adam Reuss was shaken up after a second-down incompletion. They eventually missed a field goal.
"I went down and the kid rolled on my ankle," Reuss said. "I just got it taped and came back. We didn't start off so well, but we got going at the end and started clicking."
Warren finally got on the board when Davonte Wilcox took a pitch 80 yards down the home sideline. After sophomore Nick Turner recovered a fumble, the Devils scored again on an 11-yard pass from Reuss to junior Javon Charleston.
"Davonte has the speed to score from anywhere on the field if we can get him open," coach Dave Mohapp said. "We've got to do a better job of it, because you can see he's quite a weapon."