Huge game from Warren RB helps Blue Devils get past Liberytville
Warren's student fans predicted -- via a huge poster -- that Libertyville's visiting football players would be angry after Friday night's North Suburban Conference opener in Gurnee.
But the predominant emotion turned out to be elation.
The Blue Devils skipped to a 28-8 victory behind sophomore running back Aaron Stewart's 238 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns and a swarming, ferocious defense that limited Libertyville to a scant 5 yards on the ground.
Warren had entered the game with an 0-2 record to Libertyville's 2-0 mark.
"Our guys had to think about a loss for eight days," said Warren coach Bryan McNulty, referring to the setback to visiting Maine South on Aug. 31. "People were telling them they weren't good.
"Our theme in practice all week was to be tough, bounce back."
Stewart, a 5-foot-8, 170-pounder, bounced off countless would-be tacklers on most of his 35 carries and tallied second-half TD runs of 15 and 11 yards, with the second score giving the hosts a 19-8 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
He pins foes in the winter after grappling for extra yardage in the fall.
"Aaron is an amazing wrestler, an amazing athlete," said Blue Devils senior defensive lineman/tight end Aiden Porreca, who recorded 2 sacks -- including his first on the first play of the night --- and was in on several others.
Warren opened the scoring Friday night with a 5-yard TD run by senior RB Donovan McNeal (9 rushes, 27 yards, 2 TDs) at 4:10 of the first quarter.
Libertyville (2-1, 0-1) answered with a 4-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Quinn Schambow to sophomore wideout Blaise LaVista early in the second frame and went up 8-7 on a 2-point conversion pass from senior linebacker Charlie Clark to junior tight end Josh Holst.
Neither team scored in the final 11:23 of the second quarter.
Schambow completed 12-of-20 passes for 208 yards. His top targets were LaVista (5 receptions, 102 yards) and junior wide receiver Sam Seth (2-59).
Warren improved to 1-2, 1-0 in the NSC a year after downing host Libertyville 42-7.
"We prepared so well for this game," said the 6-3, 240-pound Porreca, whom McNulty called a warrior for making a significant impact on both sides of the ball. "We talked all week about coming together and playing together.
"And that's what we did tonight."
Warren junior defensive back Antonio Moore picked off a pass; sophomore teammate X'Zavion Montgomery contributed a pair of lengthy kickoff returns; and McNeal rushed for 4 yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Libertyville 32 near the end of the third quarter.
The Blue Devils would score their third TD three plays later and then complete a run of 21 unanswered points.
Libertyville was trailing 13-8 when it fumbled the ball near the goal line after marching 79 yards on a third-quarter drive.