No. 6 Gladiators storm past New Town for first state football final berth; Reiff tosses 2 TDs (VIDEO HERE!)

Glenelg running back Wande Owens (6) sheds off a New Town defender during the first half of Friday’s Class 2A state football semifinal. The No. 6 Gladiators advanced to their first state title game with a 35-0 victory over the 16th-ranked Titans in western Howard County.

During halftime of Friday’s Class 2A state football semifinal, Glenelg High coach Butch Schaefer told his squad to “finish the job.” The Gladiators completed the task and years of disappointment are finally vanquished.

No. 6 Glenelg advanced to its first state final with a 35-0 drubbing of 16th-ranked New Town in western Howard County. Senior quarterback Tyler Reiff threw two touchdowns for the Gladiators, and Wande Owens rushed for 144 yards and a score.

The Howard County champs dominated from the opening kickoff, putting up a running clock in the fourth quarter to punch its ticket to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium next weekend. The Gladiators will play undefeated Frederick County’s Oakdale for the 2A state title, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

After falling in the state semifinals three of the past four seasons, Glenelg (13-0 overall) found the light on Black Friday.

“It’s really surreal,” said Owens. “The first year we lost the region final. We broke the region championship streak, then falling short fall in the state semifinals has been devastating.

We have really great leadership. The seniors bring the attitude of getting better every day in place. There’s no complacency.”

There was no letdown Glenelg on either side of the ball Friday as  seniors Michael Doughty and C.J. Davidson each recorded defensive scores. Doughty and Eric Gruber hauled in scoring throws from Reiff.

Owens, a Yale University commit who rewrote the Howard County rushing record book this fall, wasn’t dominant, but the Gladiators offense kept New Town’s defense at wits end all evening. Kyle Dry, Gruber and sophomore Tristen Bovello combined for 50 yards behind the front Kevin Pak, Griffin Doyle, Otto Trawick, Jake Armone and CJ Davidson with Sam Alsheimer as the lead blocking back.

A year ago, an injured Alsheimer watched from the sidelines as Glenelg lost to eventual state champ Montgomery County’s Damascus. A dynamic linebacker, Alsheimer’s healthy presence has elevated the Gladiators this fall.

“I don’t think we’re that more athletic this year or that more talented. I think we really brought in as a team earlier in the year,” said Alsheimer, who broke his leg last year against Howard. “This year compared to the other years, I feel like we’re way more focused. We’re not making the same mistakes off the field.”

Glenelg did something Friday it hadn’t done in its previous four state semifinal matches: Score first. With Owens getting 11 straight carries, the Gladiators went from their 16 to New Town’s 17.

On 4th down, Reiff found a wide open Doughty in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown with 1:48 left in the opening quarter. Doughty scored again when Alsheimer blocked a New Town punt and Doughty recovered in the end zone on the first play of the second.

Owens capped a 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard score on 4th down, staking Glenelg to a 21-0 halftime advantage. Owens, who rushed for 121 yards in the opening half, broke his own HoCo single-season rushing mark Friday.

With New Town (10-3) again selling out on the run, Reiff hit a wide open Gruber for a 55-yard score with 2:59 left in the third. Earlier, a wide open Gruber dropped a Reiff pass.

Reiff knows he wouldn’t be confused with Kansas City Chief rookie quarterback sensation Patrick Mahomes, but like the rest of his Gladiator mates, he gladly accepts his role.

“I might not be the most prolific passer in the state, but I try to take advantage and get the most out of it as possible,” said Reiff, who finished 2 of 4 for 72 yards. “Whatever helps the team is fine with me.”

Reiff, who also plays linebacker, had one of Glenelg’s eight quarterback sacks Friday. Senior defensive end Elijah Deese finished with a hat trick and Griffin Doyle. Camden Renehan and Bovello each had an interception.

In its first state semifinal since 2012, New Town struggled. The Titans, besieged early by high snaps out the shotgun, were often penetrated by Glenelg’s defensive front two levels.

Their defense, which allowed one touchdown in the North Region playoffs, got a dissertation in power football Friday.

“We got our butts beat. Their line beat my d-line all night long,” said Titans coach Mike Savage. “We got a couple of stops in the second half, but hey, I hope they win it.”

Savage, in his first season at the Baltimore County school, saw nothing but positives.

“We were one game away from playing in the state championship with young kids,” said Savage, who graduates five starters. “I told the kids they have nothing to cry for. They weren’t picked to win nothing.”

It’s a one-game season for Glenelg, which next has Oakdale in a matchup of first-time final participants. Oakdale, which routed Elkton in the other state semifinal Friday, ended Montgomery County’s Damascus’ 53-game winning streak in the West Region final last weekend.

Damascus routed Glenelg in the 2014 (3A; 33-0) and 2017 (2A; 42-7) state semis. In 2016, Franklin ended the Gladiators’ season in the 2016 3A semifinals (30-7).

Next Saturday, Glenelg, which opened its doors in 1958, is going where no other Glenelg football team has gone before.

“I’m really proud of the kids. It’s great to work in a community like this that supports everything we do,” said Gladiators coach Butch Schaeffer. “I couldn’t be more happier for the kids and the community. They deserve this.”

Tyler Reiff (left) threw for two scores, Sam Alsheimer had a blocked punt and Wande Owens added a rushing score for Glenelg Friday. The Gladiators will play Frederick County’s Oakdale for the 2A state championship next Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

“I never thought I would be playing for a state championship. You see it in the movies like Friday Night Lights, the emotions you really can’t describe,” said Reiff. “It’s just pure happiness. I can’t wait to play this game. It’s going to be the biggest game of my life, and I think our whole team is going to be ready for it.”

Class 2A state football semifinal

No. 6 Glenelg 35, No. 16 New Town 0

New Town 0 0 0 0 – 0

Glenelg 7 14 7 7 – 35

First quarter

Glenelg – Michael Doughty 17 pass from Tyler Reiff (Chris Retzbach kick)

Second quarter

Glenelg – Doughty blocked punt recovery in end zone (Retzbach kick)

Glenelg – Wande Owens 2 run (Retzbach kick)

Third quarter 

Glenelg – Eric Gruber 55 pass from Reiff (Retzbach kick)

Fourth quarter

Glenelg – C.J. Davidson 5 fumble return (Retzbach kick)