It’s been known for weeks now what football team is the best in Howard County, but Glenelg made sure Friday night that the 2018 squad will be remembered in the record books.
And, like he did on Oct. 19 when he broke the county career rushing record, senior running back Wande Owens etched his name into the record books once again.
Owens ran for four touchdowns and the Gladiators rolled past Wilde Lake, 33-7, to finish the regular season undefeated for the first time since 2002 and win their first county title since 2013. The defending 2A South region champions also locked up the No. 1 seed in the regional playoffs.
“It’s a credit to our kids and our coaches,” Gladiators coach Butch Schaffer said. “Our defense played a tremendous game today and that really helped us win today. I’m really proud of the effort the kids. It’s been a great season so far but this isn’t our goal.”
Owens entered the game with 27 rushing touchdowns on the season — tied for the fourth-most in league history and one behind his single-season best — but his big performance vaulted him into a tie with Wilde Lake’s Raphael Wall, who scored 31 times on the ground in 1990. Owens broke Wall’s county career rushing record (5,095 yards) against River Hill in Week 7 and padded his record on Friday with a season-high 286 yards on 24 carries.
He now has 5,622 yards and counting, which is the sixth-most in state history, according to Maryland High School Football Reference.
After the game, Owens, who has scored at least two touchdowns in every game this fall, cracked a smile but said what he’s always said: it’s all about the offensive line.
“They get their push and I just reap the benefits of their hard work,” he said.
Owens found the end zone early and often. He gained 90 yards on four carries on Glenelg’s first drive and scored on a 49-yard run, and then on the next possession he broke free for a 78-yard touchdown. A 44-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter put the Gladiators ahead 21-0, and his 9-yard scamper early in the third quarter was his last of the night and tied him with Wall.
Meanwhile, Glenelg’s defense pinned its ears back and got after Wilde Lake quarterback Eli Fisher in the downpour, and everyone played a part.
The Gladiators finished with seven sacks — five in the first half — and forced two turnovers and blocked a punt. The defensive line did most of the damage, as senior CJ Davidson had three sacks, senior Otto Trawick had two, and seniors Griffin Doyle and Jake Arnone had one apiece.
Senior linebacker Sam Alsheimer had an interception, junior Drew Sotka recovered a fumble, and Griffin blocked the punt in the second quarter.
Altogether, the Gladiators held the Wildecats (6-4) to minus-two total yards — minus-four in the first quarter, one in the second, three in the third and minus-two in the fourth.
A blocked punt by Amari Hutson set up Wilde Lake at the Glenelg 5-yard line late in the game, and Montrae Williams scooted in for a 6-yard touchdown to avoid being shut out for the first time all season. The Wildecats managed just one first down in each half.
Offensively for Glenelg, junior running back Kyle Dry also had a big night spelling Owens. He finished with 123 yards on 16 carries.
“Having to come here and play in this downpour didn’t help anything,” Wilde Lake coach Mike Harrison said. “We try to run a balance offense where we throw the ball some and run it, but that took away half our offense right at the bat. It was tough for us.”
Harrison, who was an assistant under legendary coach Doug DuVall and coached Wall at Wilde Lake, said after the contest that Owens reminds him of Wall, “as crazy as it sounds.”
“Raphael and him are built the same they run very similar, and I think Raphael would be flattered by the whole thing,” he said. “Records don’t stand forever; they’re meant to be broken.”
The Gladiators first-round playoff opponent will be determined Sunday at the MPSSAA official seeding meeting.
Glenelg (10-0) — 33, Wilde Lake (6-4) — 7
G — 14 7 12 0 — 33
WL — 0 0 0 7 — 7
G: Wande Owens 49-yard run, Chris Retzbach kick [7-0]
G: Owens 78-yard run, Retzbach kick [14-0]
G: Owens 44-yard run, Retzbach kick [21-0]
G: Owens 9-yard run, kick failed [27-0]
G: Kyle Dry 6-yard run, conversion failed [33-0]
WL: Montrae Williams 6-yard run, Elwyn Yount kick [33-7]