The North Warren Patriots wrapped up their first winning season in more than five years with a loss in the first round of postseason play against Butler Oct. 28. Despite the first-round elimination, Head Coach Gene Fluri said his team had a season they could all
be proud of, heading into the playoffs with a five-game winning streak.
“The team delivered from the beginning,” Fluri said. “They stuck together. But we clawed, we fought. And I expected the kids to be that way, I really did. It’s pretty emotional game for a lot of them. Some of them been together since they were 10 years old.”
Butler’s 35-13 win was powered primarily by its ability to shut down North Warren stand-out receiver Craig Shipps. Under unrelenting pressure by two, sometimes three, defensemen, quarterback Jared Van Valkenburg was unable to connect with his go-to receiver.
Shifting to a ground game, Van Valkenburg turned to reliable running backs Angelo Fluri and Alex Diaz, who scored on a 42-yard touchdown run.
As rewarding as the 2022 season was, Fluri said he knows the team has work ahead of it this year, losing 13 seniors to graduation.