Wilde Lake High’s football team could not have played a better first half than it did in its season’s opener against Glenelg Friday evening. The Wildecats moved the ball at will on offense, and their defense handcuffed the Gladiators’ offense.

But by the game’s final whistle, Wilde Lake barely survived. The Wildecats held on for a 26-19 decision over Glenelg in a Howard County league contest.

Senior running back Khalil Vierra scored a pair of touchdowns for Wilde Lake (1-0 overall and Howard), and EJ Gilman rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Shane Kellaher threw and ran for a touchdown for Glenelg (0-1, 0-1), and senior running back Colin Osborne added a six-yard score.

After leading by 20 points early in the final quarter, Wilde Lake needed to secure an onsides kick then run out for the final two minutes to lock up the win. Wildecats coach Mike Harrison said he figured there would be some peaks and valleys in the first game of the new season.

“We made some mistakes and let them back in the game,” said Harrison in his second season. “I felt real good about the way we controlled the game offensively with our running game.”

Wilde Lake rushed for 298 yards with Vierra providing 95 and Devin McCoy, AJ Harris, Terrell Nickens and Brian Anderson also getting touches. The Wildecats were up 26-6 after Gilman’s one-yard plunge completed a 14-play, 80-yard response to Glenelg’s second half opening drive.

The Gladiators went to a spread offense, and Kellaher found Jake True from 18 yards out. After recovering an onsides kick, Glenelg went 37 yards capped by Kellaher’s two-yard score, closing the gap to 26-19 with two minutes, 10 seconds remaining in regulation.

Glenelg tried another onsides, but the ball bounced into the arms of Wilde Lake’s Joe Kelly. The Wildecats executed four plays and closed out the victory, but they were hardly pleased.

“We should’ve kept the intensity moving,” said Vierra. “It feels good to be 1-0 right now, but if we want to go 10-0, we got to play way better than we played in the second half.”

The Wildecats looked like a championship-caliber team in the first half. They went 65 yards (all runs) in eight plays as Vierra scored his first touchdown. After stopping Glenelg on fourth-and-one, Wilde Lake went 54 yards, capped by six-yard scant by McCoy.

The lead grew to 19-0 before intermission after an eight-yard run Vierra. After an uneven showing in front of their home audience, Glenelg came out with a renewed vigor, starting the second half with a 12-play, 65-yard drive with Osborne (100 all-purpose yards) scoring from six yards out.

The Wildecats regained the momentum as the offensive front featuring seniors Teka Hayes and Matt Holdefer, juniors Darien Williams and Griffin Guardela and sophomore Eric Handy drove through Glenelg’s defense. Harrison said he was concerned with the unit early in the preseason.

“We got guys who can run the ball if they can get someone in front of them,” said Harrison, who commended tight end Tom Klotz who played Friday with a cast on his broken left hand suffered earlier in the week.

“They played more aggressively up front than we did,” said Glenelg coach Butch Schaffer. “I like the way our kids fought back.”

Glenelg heads to Reservoir next Friday in league play. Wilde Lake looks to move to 2-0 on the young season, hosting Long Reach.

“They can be a good football team,” said Harrison. “We talked to the kids before the game and told them at 6 o’clock this evening there are about 10,000 kids playing high school football who think they’ll be undefeated after tonight.

Right now, half of them have lost a game, and we’re not one of them.”

Wilde Lake 26, Glenelg 19
Wilde Lake
1st Q
WL-Vierra 3 run (kick failed)
WL-McCoy 6 run (pass failed)
2nd Q
WL-Vierra 8 run (Kelly kick)
3rd Q
G-Osborne 6 run (kick failed)
4th Q
WL-Gilman 1 run (Kelly kick)
G-True 7 pass from Kellaher (pass failed)
G-Kellaher 2 run (Russo kick)