Most high school football coaches leave their Week 1 games still trying to figure out if their players can make tackles and run simple plays.
Determining much beyond that, like whether or not they've got a team with heart, perseverance, mental toughness and determination, often takes more time.
Like, say, maybe three overtimes.
Warren coach Dave Mohapp was able to analyze more than just the basics about his team last weekend thanks to all the extra time the Blue Devils spent on the field.
It took three overtimes, but Warren ultimately pulled out a crazy 42-35 Week 1 victory over host Lyons in LaGrange.
The Blue Devils not only lasted longest in overtime, they also made an improbable comeback, somehow erasing the 21-0 deficit they carried into the fourth quarter.
That told Mohapp almost all he needs to know about his players' mental fortitude.
"We've never had an experience like that before," said Mohapp, now in his 17th season at the helm. "We've never come back from so much to then finish it off. We were a very unified team. We stayed together and the guys were really focused.
"I think your character really comes out in a game like that. There were a lot of obstacles for us to come and it would have been easy to say, 'We can't overcome this.' But our kids stuck together and I'm proud of the way our guys were able to do that."
The Blue Devils got back into the game with a nice mixture of passing and running. Quarterback Andrew Nickell passed for 2 touchdowns and three different running backs scored.
Warren tied the game with about 1:30 left in regulation.
Meanwhile, the defense wound up making plays at just the right times, stopping some key second-half drives by Lyons.
"Lyons had all the momentum in the first half, but as we got some stops and we finally scored, you could feel the energy swing the other way," Mohapp said. "We had some momentum building and the overtimes ended up being really exciting.
"I just hope we learn from this and continue to benefit from it. An experience like that against a good team can really pay off because it should give us some confidence."
Coming back from a 21-0 fourth-quarter deficit was only part of the uphill battle Warren faced last weekend at Lyons.
Just getting to LaGrange wasn't very easy. And the Blue Devils had to do it twice.
Warren's bus fought rush hour traffic for three hours before arriving in LaGrange just 30 minutes before kickoff Friday night. But as it turned out, thanks to the storms and lightning that relentlessly pounded the area that night, the Blue Devils made the trip in vain. The game was postponed to Saturday, which meant that they had to turn around and do the trip all over again the next day.
"Luckily, it took us only 55 minutes to get down there on Saturday," said Warren coach Dave Mohapp, whose players made stretching during warmups a priority after back-to-back long bus rides. "We knew the trip was going to be tough on Friday before we even left, so we talked to the guys a lot about overcoming obstacles.
"The Lyons people were great, though, and made sure we had everything we needed."
Signing Warren for a nonconference series was probably a no-brainer for Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg.
For starters, the trip home for Weinberg after games in Gurnee will be a piece of cake.
Weinberg lives in the Gurnee area. In fact, the former Highland Park head coach has one son who plays on the Warren freshman team and another who is involved with the Warren youth football program.
Weinberg himself volunteers for the Warren youth football program and currently serves as a vice president.
"After years of playing Maine South, we were looking for the chance to play someone new in the nonconference and we thought that Lyons would be a good fit for us," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "Kurt is a very good coach who is very passionate and we see that in the way he gives his time to our youth program."
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