If Warren junior running back Darrius Crump was a secret to the rest of the football teams in the state of Illinois, he's hardly one any longer.
On just the fifth play from scrimmage in the season opener for the Blue Devils against visiting Lyons Township on Friday, Crump, who transferred to Warren from Carmel, spun through the Lions defense and ran away for a 60-yard score.
That effort was just a small portion of a sensational and career-best 243-yard rushing performance on 27 carries as the host Blue Devils gave new head coach Bryan McNulty his first win, 17-14 over Lyons.
"It's funny, because the cat is out of the bag," McNulty said about Crump. "We all knew how good he was, and now everyone else does. He is special."
Crump was quick to credit his performance to the big blue wall up in front of him.
"Those guys up front did a great job opening up holes," Crump said. "With as big as those guys are, I am confident that I will get big lanes to run through."
As special as Crump was for Warren (1-0), the Blue Devils needed everything from him and a very stingy defense that was tested all night by Miami of Ohio-bound Lyons senior Leonard Ross and veteran quarterback Tom Fielder.
"Lyons is a really good program," McNulty said. "They have a really good coach and a really good running back and a really good quarterback so as a defensive coach you get a little nervous about that."
The Warren defense was challenged all night, including the final two possessions for the Lions.
With 3:05 left in the game, Lyons (0-1) took control at midfield. But just as the Lions got started, a mishandled snap ended up in the hands of senior Bryan Nolan and the Devils stopped another Lyons threat.
"I saw Ross kind of mishandle the snap and then I saw the ball on the ground," Nolan said. "Instinctively I just pounced on it as soon as I saw it."
After a short drive Lyons got the ball back again at midfield. Three plays later, Fielder threaded a pass through a Warren defender into the hands of senior Michael Kirksy. But on the next play, the opportunistic Warren defense came up with another big play.
As Fielder lofted a pass to the right corner of the end zone, every bit of the 5-8 frame of Junior Jose Carrasco came off the ground and stole the ball for a game clinching interception.
"I saw 14 out there and I have full faith in Jose Carrasco," McNulty said. "A lot of people see the smaller kid and they want to take a shot at him."
Lyons answered the Warren score on a 1-yard scoring run by Ross (19 carries, 129 yards) then they took the lead just before half time on a beautifully executed quarterback draw by Fielder. His 12-yard scoring run put the Lions up 14-10 at halftime.
"I think both teams had their opportunities tonight," said Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg. "There were a few turnovers here and there plus I think there were some yards still out there to be had but no scoring."
Warren took the lead for good following one of four Lyons turnovers. A muffed punt by the Lions gave Warren the ball at the Lyons 13. Two plays later, Jay Nickell hit Illinois-bound senior Caleb Reams for a 7-yard scoring play and the Devils had the lead with 5:38 left in the third quarter.