A quarterback named Nickell stopped on a dime and threw a pass on the money.
A penny for your thoughts, Warren coach Dave Mohapp.
"Very intelligent kid," Mohapp said of senior QB Andrew Nickell after a recent practice. "This kid almost aced the ACT. He's got some natural leadership abilities. He knows how to handle kids and how to encourage them the right way, things like that."
Whether this season will be rich for the Blue Devils might depend on how far their Nickell will take them. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Nickell backed up Adam Reuss last season and appears poised to reward the Blue Devils for investing in him. In Reuss (1,968 passing yards, 13 touchdowns), running back Davonte Willcox (821 rushing yards, 374 receiving yards) and tight end Connor Iwema (41 receptions), Warren graduated three game-breakers, all of whom were named all-conference.
"We're young on offense," Mohapp said. "A lot of our skill guys are gone. But we're fortunate we got a couple of guys back that are good players, and the replacements have held their own so far. We'll find out what they do in the game."
Senior Max Sorby backed up Willcox and now will get his chance to start at running back. Max is a max-effort kid.
"The thing about Max is, he didn't have a lot of carries last year, but when he was in there, it was amazing the productivity he had," Mohapp said. "There were some bad plays that he turned into plusses for us. He's that type of a running back. Very quick. Good speed."
Senior wide receivers Javon Charleston and Zach Rappel had productive offseasons, Mohapp said, and the two players were frequent targets of Reuss last season, as well. Charleston and Rappel had 26 and 22 receptions, respectively, and each player caught 3 touchdown passes. Junior Caleb Reams will also play wide receiver.
The line boasts plenty of experience with tackle Joey Zumpano (6-5, 250), who was starting last year as a sophomore until getting injured midway through the season, senior center Tom Steen (6-3, 220), senior tackle Matt Bloom (6-4, 260) and senior guard Sawyer McCaffrey (6-3, 280), who's moved over from defense. Senior guard Matt Doljanin will be a new starter.
The Blue Devils will continue to run a spread offense and hope their inexperience doesn't prove too costly.
"That's the question mark -- a young offense at the skilled spots," Mohapp said. "That's our deal."
Mohapp thinks senior linebackers Bryson Eppinger and Lucas Fulton could be in line for big seasons after both players missed time with injuries last fall. Junior Mike Brierton and senior Ravon Spruill will also play linebacker.
Eppinger suffered a high-ankle sprain last season, missed a handful of games and Mohapp said the team "could just never get him going again" after that. If Eppinger can stay healthy, look out.
"This kid is a man," Mohapp said. "When he hits you, he hits you with everything."
Tommy Riggins will start at nose guard after seeing a good amount of action as a junior. Senior Kyle Whitmer and junior Nick Turner will man the tackle spots.
The secondary graduated all-conference choice Ryan Sweeney but will feature a trio of senior veterans in Roderick Pompey, Nick Kokotas and Justin Viola.
"We had a nice off-season defensively," Mohapp said. "Last year was a little atypical for us. We gave up a lot of big plays. We've played pretty consistent defense over the years."
Warren earned an at-large state playoff berth last season after a 3-6 campaign in 2011 ended a run of four straight postseason appearances.
"I like this team," Mohapp said. "It's really a coachable team. ... I hope our defense will be strong. I hope, offensively, that we can mature. I think it will come down to how fast we can get our offense on track."