HENSPTS-04-13-21 WARREN1

Warren County wide receiver Camren Hogan (11) runs up the middle of the field while his teammate Jah’Quell Hendrick (7) blocks for him during their team’s season-ending 53-20 loss to Louisburg on Saturday.

LOUISBURG -- Warren County entered Saturday morning’s matchup with Louisburg determined to clinch their first playoff berth since 2014 in head coach V.J. Hunt’s second year of leading the program.

Louisburg promptly squashed any hope Warren County had of reaching that goal by enjoying a dominant first half that gave them a 53-20 victory and ended a promising season for Hunt on a sour note.

A positive COVID-19 test last Saturday meant that Warren County could only get one practice in before the contest with Louisburg, which Hunt believed put his players in unfavorable but uncontrollable circumstances despite the effort his players put in during the game.

“There was a lot of adversity to overcome,” Hunt said. “We had a tough loss last week and didn’t really have an opportunity to practice this week. We never got into a rhythm but we had to throw together a gameplan when [Louisburg] had a bye week and spring break. They had plenty of time to scheme us up.”

Warren County had an opportunity to take an early lead after Louisburg lost a fumble on a botched snap that occurred deep in their own territory. A hard tackle on senior Camren Hogan caused him to lose the ball on Warren County’s first play, which gave Louisburg the ball at midfield and foreshadowed what was to come for Warren County.

Senior quarterback Ja’Heim Brown successfully led a touchdown drive to put Louisburg up 6-0 early but Warren County responded with freshman quarterback Najah Williams finding senior wide receiver Elijah Boyd for a 50-yard score that gave their team an 8-6 advantage.

The game gradually began to fall apart for Warren County after Boyd’s receiving touchdown, as their defense proceeded to give up a big 70-yard reception that Louisburg transformed into their score of the game after making several attempts on the goal line.

After Brown found freshman wide receiver Tymar Kearney for another touchdown, Williams committed another fumble on the kickoff return, resulting in another successful Louisburg scoring drive that expanded their lead to 25 points.

Louisburg provided Warren County one last punch before entering the locker room. While trying to scramble, Williams lost his grip on the football, enabling sophomore defensive back DaMaury Crudup to scoop it up for a defensive touchdown.

Hogan made up for his mistake in the first quarter by returning a lost fumble from Brown for a Warren County touchdown. A bad snap on a Louisburg punt set up Warren County in a great position to trim their deficit further but Williams’ third fumble of the game gave the ball right back to Louisburg.

Louisburg did not score again until the fourth quarter freshman running back Shamir Sheppard scored on a short run. Brown then connected with senior wide receiver Darrius Crudup on a deflected pass for Louisburg’s final touchdown of the game.

Hunt affirmed his praise for his players and everything they had to deal with throughout the shortened football season but was disappointed that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Warren County from accomplishing more on the field.

Hunt remains determined to build a winning football program at Warren County and is optimistic that the growth his players have shown through his first two years despite the circumstances is a sign that the overall trajectory remains positive.

“We built a lot of character this year,” Hunt said. “We have asked kids to do things that are almost unheard of. Our kids aren’t in school and a lot of them struggle with rides but they handled the adversity every day. The biggest takeaway from this year is that I have a team of tough, hard-nosed kids who are built for whatever comes their way.”