Grey­hounds still have life

Af­ter rusty start, Gil­man uses strong de­fense to win

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY FOOTBALL - By Kather­ine Dunn kather­ine,dunn@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ kdunnsun

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.”

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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.

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