MERRILLVILLE | National rankings in prep football may be as much hype as anything.
Hype or not, mighty Warren Central showed itself worthy of its No. 1 state rating and arguably its No. 3 spot in the Rivals.com national poll Saturday at Demaree Stadium.
The Warriors scored on an 86-yard shovel pass on the first play of the game and scarcely slowed from there, rolling up 43 first-half points in a 64-13 mauling of Times No. 3 Merrillville.
"I was real happy, especially with the offense," Warren coach John Hart said. "They may have played over our expectations for this ball game. Defensively, I'd like for us to be a little more stingy. The score didn't bother me. I just would've liked us to be more physical than we were."
Kevin Davis took a flip from Kyle Faunce and went the distance on Warren's initial snap, touching off a big night for both the receiver and quarterback.
"It's the third time in four years they've scored on the first play against us," Pirates coach Zac Wells said. "That was demoralizing, but we really fought back. Eight minutes into the game, we're all discombobulated and we're only one score down."
The Pirates turned one of three fumble recoveries into a Darryl Peppers' 1-yard plunge to pull within 15-6. After another Warriors score, Merrillville quarterback Jake Raspopovich took advantage of a broken coverage to find a wide-open Aaron Dye for a 38-yard TD to make it 22-13.
"They gave us some problems," Hart said. "They did a lot of stuff Oregon does. They had a lot of nice counters. The quarterback, by the end of the year, can be a real good weapon. He threw the ball into the holes well."
But it was all Warren from there. The IU-bound Davis racked up three TDs and 188 yards on just four grabs. Faunce, a move-in from Phoenix making his first start at Warren, went 10-for-14 for 277 yards and the three scoring tosses to Davis.
"Their kickoff returner (William Isabell) was equal in speed, but other than that, I just think we overwhelmed them athletically," Hart said. "I don't think (Faunce) could've had a better first game."
Warren running back Deionte Buckley went to the sidelines after his 45-yard run to the end zone in the third quarter, which gave him 181 yards and four scores on 23 carries.
The Warriors amassed over 600 yards of offense and were ridiculously balanced with 287 yards passing to go with 325 on the ground.
"I'll have to see on film if we were down low and we were still getting pushed around or if their Joes were just better than my Joes," Wells said.