Life was good for Manual High School’s Darmontre Warr as he returned home following an evening shift at his summer job last July.
The powerful running back was coming off a breakout junior year in which he carried 213 times for 1,853 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was carefree and spent most of his time hanging out with friends, attending team workouts and whiling away the dog days in anticipation of another season.
All that changed when he walked upstairs and found DaQuane Drain – his half-brother, best friend and three-year teammate at Manual – unconscious in bed.
Drain, 18, had overdosed on pills and alcohol and fallen into a coma.
Warr called 911 and began CPR. “I tried to bring him back, but he just didn’t come back,” he said.
On July 20, after two heart-wrenching weeks in the hospital, Drain was removed from life support and died.
“I had a tough time dealing with his death,” said Warr. “You try to put it behind you, but you can’t.
He knew everything about me and I knew everything about him. After all my games he’d take me out to eat and he was a big brother to me at all times. He really cared for me and showed love for me.”
Time passed and Warr eventually eased back into football, thinking “I could let it (Drain’s death) take me down or keep on moving and roll with the punches.”
Now three months later, Warr wears a black “23” decal on his helmet –Drain’s number – and is running through tackles with a heavy heart to honor the memory of his brother.
After starting the season 6-0, the Crimsons fell to Trinity 58-7 and were edged by St. Xavier 21-14 last Friday on a last-minute touchdown.
Injuries (turf toe and a pulled left hamstring) limited Warr’s time against St. X and kept him out of games against PRP and Trinity. Still he has managed to carry 71 times for 504 yards and five TDs in only five starts.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder has less of a load to carry this season in a balanced offense that also features junior running back Dishan Romine (125 carries for 823 yards, 6 TDs) and senior wide receiver Quintez Sutton (33 catches for 540 yards, 7 TDs).
Coach Oliver Lucas thinks Warr has dealt admirably with his trials. “From losing a family member to the injuries, he’s faced all kinds of adversity this season. I think he has more of an appreciation for life, but his goals are still the same.
This kid is a D-I player and there’s nothing he can’t do on a field,” said Lucas. “Once he breaks, you can normally take off your headset. Some kids just have a gift.”
Warr put that gift on display in a 31-21 win against Central last year, when he exploded for 404 yards and three TDs on 24 carries. Performances like that put him on the radar of several college coaches and now Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville and Marshall make up his top 5 (in no particular order).
For now he is deflecting individual attention and focusing on the team. “I feel like there’s no difference between me and a freshman on the team. Once people get a big head, that’s when things start messing up,” Warr said.
Lucas got a glimpse of this selflessness last year when he confronted Warr about not applying the helmet stickers awarded to him by the coaching staff for making crucial plays.
Upset that Warr was seemingly not buying into the concept, an incensed Lucas asked: “Where are all of the award decals we’ve been giving you? Your helmet should be full!”
Warr quietly responded that he had been passing them down to his linemen for their role in his standout performances.
“That says volumes about him. Kids want to block for him and want to play for him because they know he’s unselfish. They love him for it,” said Lucas.
Manual will host archrival Male this Saturday at 4 p.m. and Warr will be at 100 percent for the first time this season.
“I’m just going to play these last games as hard as I can,” said Warr.
“This year hasn’t been what I expected, but life isn’t always what you expect.”
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photos by CHRIS CAHILL | contributing photographer
Category: High School Sports Report