Wande Owens left the field to head for Glenelg's sideline one last time around the start of the fourth quarter on Saturday night. Coach Butch Schaffer hugged his helmet and sat alone on a bench. Owens, the workhorse and Glenelg's leader for the past three years, stayed there for five minutes. Accepting his career in high school would end in defeat as coaches and teammates approached.
Owens ran for 103 yards and a touchdown in the 35-7 loss to No. 14 Glendale against Oakdale in Maryland 2A at Memorial Marine-Marine Corps Stadium. It was a solid performance, but it was not the dominant performance to show that Owens had concocted every second game of the season as the first Gladiator title was over.
"It was very moving," said Owens, with tears in his eyes, "knowing that my career in high school was over."
Owens signed Saturday with 6,251 yards in the race, making Maryland's second top scorer behind former Dunbar star Tavon Austin, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
Yale's commitment ended this season with a one-season record for Howard County, with 2,680 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns.
Oakdale (14-0) was perhaps Owens' toughest opponent. The Bears broke their 53-win streak in Damascus on Nov. 16 and beat Linganore, Maryland 3A's second, 49 points in October.
Even setting state records this season, Owens has reaffirmed that his only goal is to win the title after the Gladiators lost to Damascus in the semifinals last year.
Owens scored during Glenelg's initial training on Saturday, but did not break any other points. Glenelg, who had left no point this season as a starter in the game, could not hold Oakdale quarterback Collin Schlee, a Kent state clerk who scored four touchdowns.
"I'm not going to lie," said Glenelg's linebacker Sam Alsheimer, "I was crying my eyes."
Owens missed a pass in the third quarter because of calf cramps, while Oakdale took 21 points in advance.
Glenelg finished a senior senior class but will likely compete with Howard and River Hill to become Howard County's top team.
"It's dead when it ends," said Glenelg quarterback Tyler Reiff. "It was the best three years of my life. I could not have dreamed better. "
Owens came back on the bench with another minute and a half and looked down. As Glenelg's students chanted, "Thank you Elders," Owens rose to kiss his teammates and savor one last time at the handshake line of the Gladiators.