Warren notches convincing win over Libertyville
Workhorse or speed guy?
Just in case there is a question about what kind of running back Martin Walker Jr. is, he provided an answer Friday night.
The Warren senior proved he is very easily both in pounding Libertyville for rush after punishing rush, and then breaking away from the pack and turning on the jets for a monster gain.
Two touchdowns, 26 carries and 182 rushing yards from Walker Jr. paved the way for a definitive 35-0 Warren North Suburban Conference victory over visiting Libertyville.
The win moves the Blue Devils to 3-1 (2-0 NSC) and gives them their third straight shutout. Libertyville drops to 0-4 (0-2 NSC) on the season.
Walker's second touchdown will go first on his highlight reel. It was a 60-yard sprint in which he found a hole and quickly left everyone in the dust.
"That breakaway felt great," Walker Jr. said. "I was able to get into open space and it was off to the races and I used my speed and acceleration.
"I would say my strength is speed and acceleration. I can get into the hole real quick and once I do that, I'm able to burst and get away from defenders."
But Walker Jr., even at just 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, can be a bruiser too. And he's got the strength and endurance to absorb the pounding of games with 20- to 30-plus carries.
"He's a kid who can carry the ball 30 times and can just keep going," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said of Walker Jr. "He had a great off-season (in the weight room) and he's really strong. He's competitive as can be and he's really tough. And he's low. So it's hard to get a solid hit on him. He's as good as they get."
The Blue Devils had about as good a start as they could get.
Libertyville opened the game on its 17-yard line and the snap on the first play sailed over the head of quarterback Thomas Monken. The ball rolled around and bounced back into the end zone where Warren defensive lineman Zack Pelland fell on it for a 7-0 Warren lead just 15 seconds into the game.
"That did (set the tone)," said Libertyville coach Mike Jones, whose team has been shut out each of the last two weeks. "Our regular center was out injured so we had another center in, and he (the backup) hasn't done that all week long (in practice). So you feel bad for him. He's a great kid.
"But obviously, you can't simulate that kind of pressure in practice."
The Warren defense pressured Libertyville into 2 interceptions (by Brian Mohry and Josh Turner) and multiple sacks while yielding only 27 rushing yards and 47 passing yards to the Wildcats.
"Our defensive coordinator, Justin VanSchaick, does a great job with those kids," McNulty said. "Defense is a high priority for us and our guys buy into it."
Warren scored again in the first quarter when Juan DelaCruz caught a beautiful 64-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Phil Hird. The Blue Devils eventually took a 21-0 lead into the locker room on Walker Jr.'s first touchdown, a 4-yard run.
Wide receiver Christian Phillips caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Warren's other quarterback, Thomas Kenney, in the third quarter to make the lead 28-0 and then Walker Jr.'s big 60-yard sprint closed out the scoring with about four minutes left.
"We had blocks inside, we were able to seal and move guys. My offensive line had great push today on the defensive line," said Walker Jr., singing the praises of offensive linemen Jaiden Lowery, Matt Wilkins, Matt Rich, Nico Corsini and Jimmy Poremba. "We were able to create holes.
"This (win) shows that we are very confident and we are strong at home. We play hard defense and great offense and teams have got to know that we're going to bring the rock."