No team in Howard County has run the ball quite like Glenelg over the last few seasons.
Trey Davis broke the Howard County single-season rushing record last fall, and so far this season running back Wande Owens has carried the load and the Gladiators to a 4-1 record.
But perhaps the biggest reason for all the success of the Gladiators' running backs over the last few years has been the play off the offensive line, specifically senior Dakota Davis. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Davis has been a force in the running game since his sophomore season, and his accolades have helped him earn a scholarship to play football at Syracuse University next fall.
Davis helped Owens run for five touchdowns in a 42-12 win over Mt. Hebron on Sept. 30, and Glenelg has now scored 42 points or more in three of its five games.
The 2015 first-team all-county and second-team all-metro lineman recently took some time to talk to Howard County Times football beat reporter Tim Schwartz about his team's success so far this season, what it's been like blocking for some of the best running backs in the county, how he ended up committing to play at Syracuse, and more.
Q: How would you sum up your team's season so far?
A: It's gone pretty well so far this year. We struggled during the Wilde Lake game and I think we've bounced back pretty well from that coming out and getting a big win against Hammond. We're looking forward now.
What went wrong for you guys in the 20-14 loss to Wilde Lake on Sept. 16 and what have you learned from that result after watching the tape?
We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot. Every play on offense it seemed like at least one person was making a mistake and that just led to the downfall entirely. It just wasn't a good game all around.
As a senior now, you have been a part of some pretty successful teams at Glenelg. What does Glenelg football mean to you?
Glenelg football to me is powerhouse, hard-nosed football. We're going to come right at you and you know what's coming. We're going to shove it right down your throat.
How does that fit your style of play? At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds it seems like that fits what you like to do on the field pretty well.
Yeah, well, this is all downhill-type of football and I'll throw a body on someone if I have to. It's fun to pancake people and break other people's will play after play.
What's your favorite part of being a lineman?
Pancaking people and just making them quit.
You've blocked for some pretty good running backs here, including Trey Davis, who last year set the Howard County single-season rushing mark. Now, you have Wande Owens back there and he's kind of picked right up where Trey left off. What's it like blocking for guys like that?
It's a great feeling because we have four other great guys up front and we all work well together to block for the running back. Last year it was Trey and this year it's Wande, and so far the results the past two years have been pretty good.
Talk about your growth as a football player over these past few years.
Progressively I've improved a lot. My freshman year I was kind of timid and I wasn't as aggressive on the field as I should be. But through the years I've started to get a lot more aggressive and play the way I should.
What changed for you?
My mindset in that I wanted to play in college and that I learned what I can do to other people and break the will of my opponent.
Is there any particular game you look back on as one of your favorite moments?
I'd have to say beating River Hill two years ago when I was a sophomore in the playoffs. That was the first time beating them in like 10 years or something like that. That was pretty cool, and I got the chance to start that game as a sophomore. That was a pretty good day.
What was your recruiting process like? What schools were interested in you and how did you ultimately decide to commit to Syracuse University back in June?
I had a bunch of offers and they were all great schools and had great things to offer, but Syracuse for me was the place that I felt I belonged to. UCONN [University of Connecticut] was my next best choice that I strongly considered. There were a couple others like Old Dominion and Ohio University, but Syracuse was my top choice.
What's something that someone who is not going through the recruiting process may not know? What goes on behind the scenes before making a decision?
It's a lot of work on the player. You really have to put yourself out there and you're basically just advertising yourself to try to get someone to notice you and maybe take a chance with you.
What was your visit to Syracuse like?
I visited the campus earlier in the season and I got to meet the coaches and take a tour of the facilities and this past summer I went up there for a camp and I performed well. Soon after that, they gave me an offer. I was extremely excited because I loved the school.
What do you hope to accomplish when you leave Glenelg and head to Syracuse?
I hope to do my best up there, get my degree and hopefully play a few years. I want to be a physician assistant.
How old were you when you first started playing football?
I was in fourth grade, so I was 9 or 10. I've always been a big kid so I always played on the offensive or defensive line. I was playing with the 12 and 13 year olds when I was 9, so I was up there with the older kids.
When did you develop a love and a passion for the game of football?
In seventh grade I started dominating kids and I fell in love with the offensive side of the ball, not so much the defensive side.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
I played football, lacrosse, basketball and I used to play baseball way back in the day. I played lacrosse freshman year but I gave it up after that. I didn't play much because I was slow. [Football] is more of my fit.
Looking forward to the rest of this season, what do you feel like you guys need to do in order to accomplish the goals you have set for the year?