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Howard County football notebook: Russell, Dry filling big shoes at Glenelg; Hammond starts strong

Glenelg running back Kyle Dry, seen on the right hurdling an offensive lineman and New Town defensive end Timothy Otusajo during a Class 2A state semifinal last fall, and Adrian Russell stepped up in Week 1 against Marriotts Ridge.
Glenelg running back Kyle Dry, seen on the right hurdling an offensive lineman and New Town defensive end Timothy Otusajo during a Class 2A state semifinal last fall, and Adrian Russell stepped up in Week 1 against Marriotts Ridge. (Steve Ruark / For Baltimore Sun Media Group)

This is the first Howard County football notebook of the 2019 season. Beat reporter Tim Schwartz explores the interesting storylines week-by-week around the league:

Russell, Dry filling big shoes for Glenelg

There are no bigger shoes to fill in Howard County this year than whoever is running the ball at Glenelg. Wande Owens, the two-time county Player of the Year and the league’s all-time leading rusher and touchdown leader, is now putting his defensive talents to the test at Yale after three historic seasons as a Gladiator.

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“We’re never going to replace Wande,” said Glenelg first-year coach Tim Cullen.

Someone — or several players — had to carry the load offensively in the season opener Sept. 6, and against visiting Marriotts Ridge Cullen turned to junior Adrian Russell and senior Kyle Dry. They combined for an Owens-esque 31 carries for 189 yards in a 14-7 victory.

Russell, who played at Loyola Blakefield the last two years and saw the field as a sophomore, led the way with 151 yards on 19 carries and, like Owens before him, helped seal the victory with a long fourth-quarter run. Dry, a small but shifty back with breakaway speed, had 38 yards on 12 carries but served a good compliment to the power-running style of Russell, who is 5-foot-10, 220 pounds.

That showed against the Mustangs. With the game tied at 7 in the final minutes, Russell broke off a 66-yard run that set up the game-winning score by Trisden Bovello. The play was a fake-sweep to Dry, and when the defense overplayed to that side, Russell found a crease up the middle.

“There were some beautiful blocking by the line ... and I saw the hole and it was open,” Russell said. “I just tried to turn on the jets, and I don’t know what happened at the end; I shouldn’t have gotten caught. But that was a whole team effort right there. All of our running backs are skilled enough to do that.”

It was a run fans of the black and red had seen time and time again the previous three years, but Russell is adamant that he doesn’t want to be known as “the next Wande.” The two are friends; Russell grew up playing with Owens and many other current teammates.

“Some people have brought up me filling his shoes, but I’ve always just been trying to do my own thing,” he said. “I’m not trying to fill anybody’s shoes. I want to be a separate player from Wande. I don’t want to be the next Wande.”

Owens tallied 867 carries in 38 games the last three years and only in blowout wins did other Glenelg running backs get consistent touches. Cullen said it’s been a “fun adjustment” to get multiple runners involved.

“You can get a little more creative with everything that we can do and eventually force teams to spread out on defense because of some of the formations we can get into now,” he said. “We can have Adrian in the backfield with Kyle at a wide receiver, and Trisden Bovello is a really good running back as well. We’re still figuring it out but we’re making some good progress.”

Hammond starts strong under Bell

Hammond first-year coach Will Bell oozed confidence about his team before the start of the season. He loved what he saw from his Golden Bears in scrimmages and the growth they’ve displayed in just a few weeks, but turning around a team that won four games the last three years is a challenge.

It doesn’t seem so implausible after a dominating display at Oakland Mills on Sept. 6. Hammond scored 34 unanswered points between the first and fourth quarters to defeat the Scorpions, a playoff team a year ago, 34-21.

“The most important thing is that the whole night (Sept. 6) was about the kids and their preparation and the work they put in over the course of months,” said Bell, who was previously the head coach at Severna Park. “They had a strong preseason and it took us a couple scrimmages to figure out where some guys were going to fit in some roles. The scrimmages, we got a lot out of them. ... We knew that we had pieces; it was just a matter of where they were going to fall.”

Bell said it was a total team effort against Oakland Mills but they were led by Loick Amouzou and his two touchdown receptions from quarterback Eric Grinwis, who totaled three scores and a pair of two-point conversions. Josh Woods also scored twice on a 55-yard interception return and a 30-yard return on a blocked punt.

Defensively, the Golden Bears held All-County signal caller Kai Castle and the Scorpions run game to 139 yards. Castle managed just 49 yards passing and threw two interceptions. Khaleb Mair (13), Micah Nowlin (10) and Nolan Desheilds (10) each had double-digit tackles.

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“I thought we played very well up until the end in all three phases,” Bell said. “We spent a good amount of time on special teams, and that was key for us. Our defense really set the tone in that game by bottling up their strong run game. ... That was a big point of emphasis for our defense.”

Bell said he expected it to be only a matter of time until his team “clicked,” but he just didn’t know if it would happen this quickly. He also understands the season is a marathon, not a sprint. There is a long way to go.

“The kids really know that we care about them and that in turn they want to hold up their end of the bargain because we’re going to do everything we can for them,” Bell said. “Over the course of weeks working with them, they’ve been the hardest working group of kids that you could ever be around. They want to do well, they want to win; they need to be driven and shown the right way to do it.”

Week 1 scoreboard:

Howard 19, Reservoir 14

River Hill 33, Atholton 8

Hammond 34, Oakland Mills 21

Glenelg 14, Marriotts Ridge 7

Woodlawn 14, Long Reach 12

Oakdale 33, Wilde Lake 20

Northeast-AA 41, Mt. Hebron 14

Catonsville 32, Centennial 7

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