Gladiators stay focused in rout
Stung by memory of close losses to Hawks, Glenelg dominates throughout
With Glenelg leading host River Hill14-0 after one half of football, Gladiators coach Butch Schaffer reminded his players of the recent one-sided history of the Howard County rivalry.
“We’ve had many opportunities and we’ve played them extremely tight six of seven times and have come up on the short side,” Schaffer said. “We brought up the history. So we said we didn’t want it to come down to that. Our kids took that to heart.”
In fact, the Hawks (1-1) entered Friday night having won14 of the past 15 meetings, and five of the past six were decided by a touchdown or less. But Schaffer and the Gladiators (2-0) weren’t about to let this one slip away, and a 28-point third quarter turned the game into a lopsided 49-7 victory.
“We’ve had a lot of chances to win a couple games up here, and somehow they slipped by us,” Schaffer said. “For us to finally come through and make it happen, it feels good for these kids. I’ve been on this side of a lot of heartbreaking losses to River Hill, and I’m really proud for our kids. I’ve seen the upset looks on their faces many, many times.”
In total, Glenelg ran just two offensive plays in the third quarter — a 52-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Wande Owens and a 9-yard scamper by senior Noah Williamson after a blocked punt — but not before Garrett Mills returned the opening kickoff 82 yards up the middle for a touchdown that made it 20-0.
Senior Connor Stanley intercepted River Hill quarterback Luke Champion’s pass and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown to end the Hawks’ first series of the half. Glenelg followed it with the runs by Owens and Williamson on its next two drives to force the running clock with a 42-7 lead.
“That’s the best quarter we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Schaffer said. “It’s a testament to those guys really putting in the work on all aspects of the game on offense, on defense and on special teams. I’m really proud of their efforts.”
Owens, who led the way with 130 yards and an 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on 12 first-half carries, ran the ball once in the second half to finish with 182 yards rushing.
“We just pound the football,” said Owens, who had gains of 44 and 40 yards in the first half and set up his second-half score with a 28-yard kick return. “I wanted to return the kick, but once we scored, we were all hyped. We were all hyped up for this game. This is the most pumped I’ve been for any game I’ve ever played.”
River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen said his team simply was worn down by the size of Glenelg’s offensive line.
“You’ve got to give them a ton of credit,” he said. “They’re huge up front. That’s the key to the game; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. They’ve got a guy going to Syracuse [Dakota Davis] and another guy going to Division I, and we’ve got linemen weighing 200 or 180 pounds. We hung in there as long as we could.”
Wande Owens extends the ball over the goal line at the end of a 52-yard run for a Glenelg touchdown in the third quarter. Owens finished with two touchdowns.