Warren Township High School senior Ravon Spruill intercepted a pass late Saturday
night. And if he hadn't tripped, he might have been able to make a touchdown.
The Blue Devils were losing 10-0 at Glenbrook South High School in the first quarter of this Class 8A IHSA state playoff game. And, the home-standing Titans went up 17-7 in the third quarter.
But then Warren (7-3) stormed back. Warren's 33-17 come-from-behind victory over the Titans kept fans on the edge of their seats.
Warren will move on to round two of the state playoffs come 6 p.m. Saturday at home. Warren will host Barrington High School.
"I knew this would be a fight,'' Spruill said. "We just have an explosive offense. We can score on any drive."
This defensive-minded player was correct in his assessment of hist eam's offense. Quarterback Jimmy Nickell orchestrated the big comeback via the air. He fired touchdown passes of 17 yards and 13 yards to Danny Rockingham and 44 yards to Javon Charleston. Running back Cedric Sanders also played a key role in this game with a pair of one-yard plunges for scores.
Both Nickell and coach Dave Mohapp were disappointed by the slow start. But, Mohapp was so enthused in his post-team chat it was hard to see any misgivings.
"We don't want to start out in a hole,'' Nickell said.
"That's unacceptable,'' Mohapp said. "We need to have a faster start."
The passing game began to click. In Warren's first touchdown, they scored in 24 seconds. First Nickell hit running back Max Sorby with back to back passes which the senior took to the Glenbrook South 17-yard line. That set up the touch down to Rockingham.
"That's a play we work on,'' Nickell said. "Me and Rockingham. I just lofted it over the defender. I'm really proud of Danny [Rockingham]."
Down 10 points in the third quarter, Warren struck back within a field goal. This march of 80 yards included a short pass to Sorby, a 15-yarder to Rockingham, and a 16-yard dash by Nickell. That set up the long pass to Charleston.
"Andrew is a competitive kid,'' Mohapp said. "He really competed in the second half."
Mohapp noted it has been awhile since his football team has won a state playoff game.
"It's been a long time,'' he said. "I think it was the 2009 season."
Warren still trailed heading into the fourth quarter. An 82-yard bomb to Zach Rappel set up Sanders' plunge for the go-ahead score. It was 26-17 after an eight-play drive. That's when Rockingham grabbed his 13-yard touch down pass. A 31-yard pass from Nickell to Caleb Reams set up Sanders' final score.
Playoff game: Barrington (9-1) is a solid team. Their loss was an away game against Schaumburg. Barrington has beat five teams with winning records.