Owens fi­nally runs into de­fense that slows him


The Washington Post Sunday - - HIGH SCHOOLS - BY KYLE MELNICK [email protected]­post.com

Wande Owens walked off the field and to­ward Glenelg’s side­line one fi­nal time near the be­gin­ning of the fourth quar­ter Satur­day night. The run­ning back hugged Coach Butch Schaf­fer, re­moved his hel­met and sat on a bench by him­self. Owens, Glenelg’s work­horse and leader the past three years, re­mained there for five min­utes, ac­cept­ing his high school ca­reer would end in de­feat as coaches and team­mates walked by to slap his pads.

Owens ran for 103 yards and a touch­down in No. 14 Glenelg’s 35-7 loss to Oak­dale in the Mary­land 2A cham­pi­onship at Navy-Ma­rine Corps Memo­rial Sta­dium. It was a solid per­for­mance, but it wasn’t the dom­i­nant show­ing Owens put to­gether ev­ery other game this season as the Glad­i­a­tors’ first state ti­tle ap­pear­ance ended.

“It was very emo­tional,” Owens said with tears welling in his eyes, “know­ing my high school ca­reer was over.”

Owens en­tered Satur­day with 6,251 ca­reer rush­ing yards, mak­ing him Mary­land’s sec­ond all-time lead­ing rusher be­hind for­mer Dun­bar star Tavon Austin, who now plays for the Dal­las Cow­boys.

The Yale com­mit fin­ished this season with a Howard County sin­gle-season record 2,680 rush­ing yards and 40 rush­ing touch­downs.

Oak­dale (14-0) was per­haps Owens’s tough­est op­po­nent, though. The Bears snapped Da­m­as­cus’s 53-game win­ning streak Nov. 16 and beat Linganore, the Mary­land 3A run­ner-up, by 49 points in Oc­to­ber.

Even while set­ting state records this season, Owens has re­it­er­ated his only goal is to win the state cham­pi­onship af­ter the Glad­i­a­tors fell to Da­m­as­cus in last year’s semi­fi­nals.

Owens scored on Glenelg’s open­ing drive Satur­day but didn’t break out for any other long runs. Glenelg, which hadn’t per­mit­ted a point this post­sea­son en­ter­ing this game, couldn’t con­tain Oak­dale quar­ter­back Collin Sch­lee, a Kent State com­mit who fac­tored into four touch­downs.

“I’m not go­ing to lie,” Glenelg line­backer Sam Al­sheimer said, “I was cry­ing my eyes out.”

Owens missed time in the third quar­ter with calf cramps as Oak­dale built a 21-point lead.

Glenelg grad­u­ates a large se­nior class but prob­a­bly will com­pete with Howard and River Hill to be Howard County’s top team.

“It sucks when it was end­ing,” Glenelg quar­ter­back Tyler Reiff said. “It was the best three years of my life. I couldn’t have asked for any­thing bet­ter.”

Owens re­turned to that bench with a minute and a half left and stared at the field. As Glenelg’s stu­dents chanted, “Thank you, se­niors,” Owens stood, hugged his team­mates and sa­vored lead­ing the Glad­i­a­tors’ postgame hand­shake line one last time.

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