Bryson Eppinger is a dedicated football player. The kind that sacrifices his body for the good of the team and never gives up.
Eppinger, senior at Warren Township High School, missed a few games this year in his final season of Warren football. But, he had a good excuse.
"I had two concussions,'' Eppinger said.
Despite past injuries, Eppinger played in the final Warren football game of the season Nov. 9.
Saturday's game pitted the second-seeded Barrington Broncos against the 10th-seeded Warren Blue Devils. In other words, it wasn't supposed to be close.
This was no ordinary Warren team. It may have been one of the most exciting teams in the Northwest suburbs. Warren stayed within a single point of Barrington into the final quarter before falling 21-13. Warren finished 7-4.
Eppinger was credited with 10 tackles. His biggest play on Saturday night in Gurnee came with Barrington knocking on the goal line. He picked up a fumble at the goal line and raced down field.
The officials credited Eppinger with the fumble recovery, but didn't allow his score.
"We all grew a lot this year,'' Eppinger said. "We gelled really well. We worked so hard."
Warren coach Dave Mohapp had no complaints about this team.
"This was a very coachable team,'' Mohapp said. "It was very talented. It had outstanding characters with great work ethic. That's the kind of foundation you want in a program."
The Devils' explosive offense had several scoring opportunities that didn't pan out and that cost them a victory. The first drive of the game found the Devils at the Barrington eight-yard line.
An interception closed that drive. Still, Max Sorby's 15-yard touchdown run gave Warren a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Warren's opening drive of the second quarter was highlighted by quarterback Andrew Nickell's 55-yard pass play to Danny Rockingham. That set up Warren deep in Barrington territory. Still, the drive stalled. Griffin Rosuck's 28-yard field goal gave Warren a 10-7 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Mike Brierton's interception set Warren up at the Barrington 23-yard line. Again, the offense fell short.
"We had opportunities,'' Mohapp said. "We just couldn't convert them. Barrington was very good, but we had practiced well. We just needed to finish."
Nickell threw for 175 yards. Sorby ran for 114 yards.
Warren's final score of the season came on a 30-yard field goal by Rosuck. It came with eight minutes to play in the final quarter.
Warren's dynamite offense scored 42 or more points on five different occasions.
The high of the season was the 61 points the Devils scored against North Chicago. The four losses came against teams that have posted a combined record of 36-7. Three of those teams –Stevenson, Barrington and Lake Zurich – are still playing in the state playoffs.
Warren does have some good-byes to make. Those seniors include quarterback Nickell, running back Sorby, receivers Zach Rappel and Javon Charleston, and Rockingham. Eppinger joins fellow defenders who are graduating like Ravel Spruill, Lucas Fulton, Kyle Whitmer and Roderick Pompey. Also playing their final game at Warren were: Kevin Richter, Nick Kokotos, James Quartey, Josh
Schroeder, Justin Viola, Mason McIntosh, Arian Simmons, Zach Rosenbaum, Cedric Sanders, Deonteja Sims, Tom Steen, Austin Stevens, Andrew Herbst, Matt Doljanin, Jon Stigall, Jermayne Myrick, Matt Bloom, Kyle Whitmer, Tommy Riggin and Darren Wiley.