River Hill (5-2) at No. 8 Glenelg (7-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Coaches: Butch Schaffer, Glenelg; Brian Van Deusen, River Hill
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Glenelg: RB-S Wande Owens, Sr.; QB-LB Tyler Reiff, Sr.; RB-LB Sam Alsheimer, Sr.; WR-DB Eric Gruber, Sr.; OL Otto Trawick, Sr.; K Chris Retzbach, Jr.
River Hill: QB-LB Robby Windsor, Sr.; RB-DB Beau Brade, Jr.; WR-LB Spencer Brockdorff, Sr.; OL-DL Jack Island, Sr.; RB-DB Jordan Perry, Jr.; RB-DB Anthony Behrmann, Jr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
History could be on the line Friday night when Glenelg hosts rival River Hill.
Gladiators senior running back Wande Owens needs just 93 yards to break the Howard County all-time career rushing record held by Wilde Lake’s Raphael Wall, who had 5,095 yards from 1987 to 1990.
Owens, who already holds the single-season Howard County rushing record with 2,504 yards as a sophomore in 2016, broke the 5,000-yard mark with a season-high 233 yards on 32 carries in a 49-19 win against Long Reach last week. The 6-foot, 185-pound bruiser is averaging more than 20 carries and nearly 190 yards per game for the undefeated Gladiators.
But Glenelg coach Butch Schaffer said his team is focused on only one thing: winning. There has been no mention of the record from Owens or his teammates in preparation this week.
“To be honest, we haven’t discussed it all,” he said. “All we’re worried about is playing the game. Hopefully it will come — I know Wande hasn’t said anything about it and he never has, that’s just not the kind of kid he is. All he’s worried about is the team winning.”
As Owens goes, so do the Gladiators. He has scored at least two rushing touchdowns in every game this season and enters the game with 23 touchdowns, nine more than any other player in the county. His dominance has the defending Class 2A South region champions moving closer to their first county championship since 2013.
River Hill, last year’s co-Howard County champions after a 9-0 regular season, has proven that it can slow down Owens and Glenelg’s run-heavy offense. The Hawks shutout the Gladiators, 20-0, in Week 9 last season and held Owens to just 67 yards on 25 carries, but Glenelg got the best of River Hill two weeks later in the 2A South regional semifinals with a 14-6 win.
“We went back and watched both games,” Hawks coach Brian Van Deusen said. “We beat them and did some things really well in the regular season, and then they had a nice bye week and were able to get healthy ... and they did some good things and knocked us out. We’ve obviously discussed what we can do to improve on there.
“Wande is a great back, one of the best in the state, and he gets the ball a ton so he’s going to get yards. He’s a great running back and he’s going to get his 30-35 carries a game, so it’s more about being sure tacklers and making sure we’re in the right spots and not giving up the big play.”
The Hawks enter the game playing some of their best football of the season. They are coming off back-to-back shutouts against Oakland Mills and Centennial and are allowing fewer than 10 points per game. Quarterback Robby Windsor has thrown for 570 yards and eight touchdowns, while three running backs — Beau Brade, Jordan Perry and Zach Igwebe — have at least 222 yards. Igwebe, however, will miss this week’s game with an ankle injury.
Glenelg has dominated since a shortened Week 1 victory over Centennial. The Gladiators have scored at least 35 points in every game, and like the Hawks, have three shutouts.
“River Hill is a tremendous team and they are each and every year,” Schaffer said. “Our kids are excited to play and we’re looking forward to Friday. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and it’s a great game every year.”
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
» Douglass at No. 10 Mervo, Thursday, 3 p.m.
» Franklin at Perry Hall, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
» New Town at Owings Mills, Thursday, 6 p.m.
» Meade at No. 4 Broadneck, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
» Boys’ Latin at St. Mary’s, Friday, 7 p.m.
» Concordia Prep at Annapolis Area Christian, Saturday, 1 p.m.