Owens finally runs into defense that slows him
OAKDALE 35, GLENELG 7
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.