Warren defense stands tall late to hold off Hinsdale Central in Class 8A playoffs

3 minute read


By Jon J. Kerr

Junior Juan DelaCruz knew what was needed to change Warren’s playoff luck.

“I talked to the juniors and I said, ‘Hey this is it. If we are going to do something, we have to get to know these dudes,’” DelaCruz said. “Relationships are key. You have to have a bond and trust in one another and I feel like the offseason created that.”

Now the Blue Devils are headed to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001 after beating Hinsdale Central 17-14 on Saturday night. Warren (10-1) travels to Brother Rice (11-0) next weekend.

An opportunistic offense, staunch defense and timely special teams play made the difference for Warren in the second-round win.

“This was a whole team effort at its fullest,” senior running back Martin Walker Jr. said.

The Blue Devils never trailed, but could not shake Hinsdale Central (8-3), which shared the West Suburban Silver title with Glenbard West and Oak Park-River Forest.

DelaCruz’s 11-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback Phil Hird gave Warren a 14-7 lead with under a minute left in the first half.

The Blue Devils’ only score in the second half was a 25-yard field goal by Adam Saul midway through the third quarter, pushing the lead to 17-7.

Warren relied on its stout defense the rest of the way. Hinsdale Central scored on senior running back Matthew Bobak’s 51-yard TD run on the final play of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 17-14.

That made Hinsdale Central the first team to score two TDs against Warren since Barrington did it in Week 1.

That was little consolation to the Red Devils, who believed they left points on the field.

“We had opportunities. It was the little things,” Bobak said.

Warren got a fumble recovery with under two minutes left in the game and ran out the clock. The key play in the possession was Christian Phillips taking a direct snap on third down and running off the left side for 19 yards and a first down.

Twice Hinsdale Central had possession in the fourth quarter, needing a touchdown to go ahead. A final drive began on the Hinsdale Central 18-yard line with 5:13 remaining. A mix of scramble runs and throws by senior quarterback Matt Rush had the Red Devils on the Warren 35-yard line with just under two minutes left.

But the fumble in the backfield was recovered by Warren and Hinsdale Central never got the ball back.

“It’s really tough,” Rush said. “Its been the greatest two years of my life to play varsity football (at Hinsdale Central). It’s something I’ll never forget."

Jon J. Kerr is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.

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