Greyhounds still have life
After rusty start, Gilman uses strong defense to win
Since last winter, new Gilman football coach Tim Holley Jr. and his Greyhounds have heard the buzz that all their good years were behind them. On Friday night at Dunbar, they proved that isn’t so.
The No. 7 Greyhounds used a strong defensive showing and took advantage of early Dunbar mistakes to win their season opener, 21-2, before a standing-room-only crowd at the No. 9 Poets’ William “Sugar” Cain Field in East Baltimore.
“This is a great win in Gilman history, because everybody thought we were dead,” Holley said he told his players.
He would know — 40 years ago he was wearing a Greyhounds football uniform, and he’s spent most of his life at the school.
The Greyhounds, who won their 15th Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship last fall, want to prove they can still compete for the MIAA A Conference title in the post-Biff Poggi era despite losing most of the coaching staff and recruited players who transferred out.
They got off to a good start. Although Holley told them it’s just one win, it was undeniably a big one.
“It’s a really close-knit team,” senior cornerback Wade Oursler said. “We all just had each other’s back, and that’s what we play for — each other — and it really means a lot to everyone to know no one’s going to let each other down.”
The Greyhounds didn’t start off very well but neither did Dunbar, as both teams showed season-opening rust.
Each team turned the ball over on its first possession, but Gilman steadied itself late in the first half as Zachary Jones scored on a 2-yard run and Adero Mandala added the extra point with 3:15 left in the quarter.
In the second quarter, Drew Ehrlich, a weapon all night with his punts, pinned the Poets to their 4-yard line, and Dunbar turned the ball over on the next play. Poets quarterback Jared Lewis could not connect with Da’Shawn Darien on a pitch, and Gilman lineman Jake Brummett recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Gilman led 14-0.
Gilman’s defense kept Dunbar off balance the entire game with big performances led by Oursler and defensive ends Alex Slodzinski, who had at least four sacks, and Thomas Booker.
“We knew coming into the game that they were going to try to test us deep all game,” Oursler said.
“They have really fast receivers and their quarterback can lay it out there, so I just tried to stay back as much as I could and not let anyone behind me. I knew that if that happened I had Drew [Ehrlich] behind me to clean it up.”
Dunbar scored its only points early in the fourth quarter. Gilman started a drive on its 4-yard line and Avery Thurman tackled Gilman’s Brandon Madison in the end zone. Mandala’s kick made it 21-2 with 7:31 left in the quarter.
“My defense is strong,” Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said, “but I graduated all my wide receivers. Those are all sophomores, so it’s youth, and we’ve got one experienced lineman that we took advantage of, but we’ll work it from there.”
Gilman defensive lineman Alex Slodzinski (23) wraps up Dunbar quarterback Jared Lewis for his first sack of the season. The No. 7 Greyhounds used a strong defensive showing and took advantage of some early Poets mistakes to win their opener.