No. 14 Glenelg, No. 9 Howard meet in battle for Elgard Trophy

When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: at Howard

Coaches: Butch Schaffer, Glenelg; Bruce Strunk, Howard

Last meeting: Glenelg won, 35-20, last year

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Glenelg: OT-DT David Robbins, Sr.; WR-DB Brent Richardson, Sr., LB-RB Matt Baxter, Sr.; RB-DB Trey Davis, Jr.; LB-RB Sam Hulett, Jr.; TE-LB Chris Lipp, Sr.; QB Jack Hogan, Sr.,

Howard: RB Malik Anderson, Jr.; RB Najee Savage, Sr.; QB Kevin Sheahin, Sr.; OL David Billings, Sr., OL Stephen McNair, Jr.; DE-LB Winston DeLattiboudere, Sr.; SS-SB Isaiah Stokes, Sr.

KEYS TO VICTORY

The football rivalry between Howard County's oldest two schools dates back to 1957 and even has its own trophy, the Elgard Trophy, named for the last three letters in each school's name.

The original ceramic trophy disappeared in the 1960s or 1970s and what happened to it remains a mystery, but the schools unveiled a new bronze bull trophy in 2007 for Glenelg's 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the rivalry. Since then, Glenelg has claimed it five times and Howard, twice.

Elgard currently resides at Glenelg, but has traveled in recent years. Howard's 2012 win ended four years of Glenelg bragging rights, although the Gladiators have won eight of the past 10 meetings.

Last year, Howard went into the game undefeated and favored, but the Gladiators upset the Lions and went on to win their first Howard County championship in 10 years. This time, the Lions are undefeated and favored once again.

But the Gladiators' only loss was the 15-14 season opener to River Hill. Glenelg relies on a punishing offensive line and accumulates most of their offense running behind it.

"We're blocking a little bit better and we're not having as many mental mistakes," Schaffer said, "and that's what it's all about for us."

Lead blocker Robbins, committed to defending national champion Florida State, repeatedly battles multiple tacklers, but Richardson ran behind him on most of his 23 carries vs. River Hill and gained 140 yards. Robbins (6-feet-5, 300 pounds), Andrew LaPort (6-4, 240), Austin Twigg (5-9, 220) and Zach Hahn (6-feet, 180) led the way for the Gladiators' versatile backs to run 47 times for 311 yards in a 34-6 win over Reservoir.

"We're going to have to stop them on first down," Strunk said. "They put everybody up in there, try to pound it and try to get second-and-short or second-and-5. Their strength is their running game and we just have to put them in situations where they're not comfortable."

The Lions also rely on a strong running game, with Savage leading the way with 454 yards on 83 carries. But they run a spread offense and Sheahin has completed 66 percent of his passes while throwing for 492 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

In four games, Howard has scored 138 points has won by an average of 28.8 points. They have shut out two opponents.

Glenelg's games have been closer, but the Gladiators have allowed just 50 points.

The Lions have the more dynamic, balanced offense, which could give Glenelg more trouble than the the teams they've seen so far, which have relied on running games. Howard also will have to avoid turnovers — throwing an interception early in the second quarter of last year's game helped set the tone for the Gladiators' victory.

"We have to sustain drives and we have to eliminate costly turnovers and/or penalties," Strunk said. "I think last year we had two or three really costly penalties in the game and a couple turnovers, so we have to bring our 'A' game. Glenelg's that good."

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

North Carroll at Liberty, Thursday, 6 p.m.

No. 3 Gilman at No. 13 Archbishop Spalding, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Manchester Valley at South Carroll, Thursday, 6 p.m.

No. 4 Mount Saint Joseph at No. 1 McDonogh, Thursday, 7 p.m.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kdunnsun

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