The last time that Bryan McNulty was coaching a game, he was busy winning a state title.
McNulty led the Warren softball team to the Class 4A state championship in June.
He's hoping the lessons he learned on that ride will help in his new journey. In the midst of softball season, McNulty was named Warren's football head coach, replacing longtime coach Dave Mohapp.
"Winning the softball state championship was so great," McNulty said. "I think the biggest thing I took away was the poise and patience that it takes to get to that point.
"At the beginning of the season, we were just OK. We finished third in our conference. But we steadily built ourselves into a really good team, a playoff team.
"No one judges you on what you do at the beginning, they're looking at what you do at the end."
McNulty has some top-shelf athletes who can help the Blue Devils, who finished 7-4 in 2013, be relevant at the end of 2014.
Senior wide receiver Caleb Reams has committed to Illinois while junior running back Darrius Crump, a transfer from Carmel, is already turning heads.
"We've got a Big Ten football player on our team," McNulty says enthusiastically of Reams. "He can do certain things that others just can't.
Crump, meanwhile, stays on his feet better than most.
"He doesn't go down easy on contact at all," McNulty said of Crump. "He's such a competitive runner. He's got the ability to take it to the house at any time."
Quarterback Jay Nickell, who backed up his brother Andrew last season, and gigantic linemen Joey Zumpano (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) and Javon Burruss (6-foot-6, 335 pounds) round out the biggest names on offense.
Burruss is a transfer from DeLaSalle.
"I coached Andrew (Nickell), and Jay is a lot like him," said McNulty, who had been an assistant coach and underlevel coach at Warren for five years. "Both of those kids are just very calm and poised.
"Our offensive philosophy is that we'll put the ball in the hands of our best players."
Some of Warren's best players happen to be on defense.
"The strength of this senior class is defense," said McNulty, pointing to the impressive preseason camps of a few veterans: linebackers Nick Turner and Mike Brierton and cornerback Jerry Powe. "We have good size on defense. We'll try to be very physical."
The Blue Devils will also be trying for their seventh playoff berth in eight years, and their third straight.
"I've been out of high school football for a couple of years so I'm not sure yet exactly what our expectations should be," said McNulty, who was an assistant football coach at Lake Forest College over the last two falls. "And our conference is very tough. But we do seem to be pretty good."