Bolingbrook receiver Antonio King saw a quick, disciplined unit. Raiders coach John Ivlow saw a physical group.
They both were looking at Warren’s defense, which is having a season for the ages.
The Blue Devils advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in program history Saturday with an 18-6 road win over Bolingbrook in Class 8A.
Warren (12-0) has allowed just 40 points all season. On Saturday, the Devils held the Raiders (8-4) to 87 yards. Fourteen of Bolingbrook’s 45 plays from scrimmage went for negative yardage.
“They were fast,” said King, who threw a 13-yard pass to Buffalo recruit Trevor Borland for Bolingbrook’s touchdown. “They listen to their coach. When they see an open hole, someone else slides to it.”
There weren’t many open holes on Saturday, even for a Bolingbrook team with three Division I recruits on offense.
“They beat us up,” Ivlow said. “That’s the biggest thing. We could not handle them. They’re up there with Lincoln-Way East.”
Warren’s defense matched the scoring by Bolingbrook’s offense. Up 11-0 in the third quarter, the Devils’ Malachi McNeal forced a Raiders fumble that teammate Marc Davila returned 43 yards for a touchdown.
“They’re just a prideful group, they’re stingy,” Warren coach Bryan McNulty said of his defense. “They don’t like to give up a lot of yards at all, so points are kind of non-negotiable.”
Earlier, Bolingbrook took an intentional safety after a sack and an intentional grounding penalty left it facing a fourth-and-27 from its own one-yard line.
“For us, it was a collective fight because we knew they had some great players,” McNulty said. “If we were going to play those kids one-on-one, it was going to be a long night.”
“They do have a lot of good D-I kids on that side of the ball,” McNeal said. “But we have more heart.”
- Warren’s Tommy Matheson (53) shares a little enthusiasm after sacking Bolingbrook’s Devyn Suggs (14). Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Warren’s Tommy Matheson (53) sacks Bolingbrook’s Devyn Suggs (14). Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Warren’s Seamus Mellican (49) puts a hit on Bolingbrook quarterback Devyn Suggs (14) as he releases the ball. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Warren’s Willis Singleton (56) and Malachi McNeal (9) wrap up Bolingbrook quarterback Devyn Suggs (14). Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Warren’s Marc Davila (13) scoops up a fumble, breaks a tackle, and tightropes down the sideline to score a touchdown against Bolingbrook. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Warren’s Derrick McLaughlin (3) ran straight ahead and picked up tough yardage to enable the Blue Devils to control the clock. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
Bolingbrook’s defense played well too. The Raiders had five sacks and gave up just 137 yards despite the absence of injured Justin Walters, a junior safety who has offers from Notre Dame and Michigan among others.
Warren was able to run some time off the clock by handing off to 6-foot, 205-pound senior Derrick McLaughlin. He carried 25 times for 97 yards, including a three-yard TD in the second quarter.
But this win, like Warren’s other 11 this season, was pretty much about the defense.
“We’re always hungry,” said Iowa State-bound defensive tackle Willis Singleton. “We don’t want to let them get first downs.”
When the Devils went up three scores on Davila’s touchdown, there was no taking the foot off the gas.
“It was far from over,” McNeal said. “Coaches were still yelling at us on the sideline, ‘We’ve got to get three more stops.’ So we were still intense about it.”