By: Nabil Abou and Mr. Illuzzi
In 1958, Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” topped the billboard charts, President Eisenhower signed NASA into law, and WHAM-O introduced the Hula Hoop to the world.
While obviously significant to pop culture and the world, these events might not have as much impact locally like the meaning of the game that took place 65 years ago, establishing the longest running rivalry in Howard County sports history: the Gladiators versus the Howard Lions and the battle for the Elgard Trophy.
Glenelg looks to beat Howard for a fifth consecutive time and retain possession of the Elgard Trophy, an award named from the last three letters of the two oldest schools in the county. Howard High School was established in 1952 and stood alone until Glenelg opened in 1958, and, just like that, a rivalry was born.
“Every town in America has a rivalry,” said head football coach Tim Cullen. “Every town around the world has one, too. Oftentimes, we don’t even know why it happens or what it is all about. We just know it is what it is … but cannot adequately explain why it is so special. Like the Ravens-Steelers rivalry forged through the years of nail biting competition, like the Poly-City football game meeting for the 133rd time this year, the Glenelg-Howard rivalry stirs up similar emotions.”
The rivalry alone makes for a great story. However, given the emotions of a Homecoming game, and that each team enters the contest with a 4-1 record looking to sure up playoff positioning, the importance of this game is certainly magnified.
“Homecoming week and the Elgard game is definitely a big game for us as a team,” said junior safety/wide receiver Logan Pushek. “Our guys understand there is more weight to the game, but we also understand that we cannot get caught up in the other distractions.”
The team, according to its players, including junior quarterback Zach LaFountain, said they’re dialed in and distractions, despite all the hype, won’t be a factor.
“The team and coaches have been working very hard to prepare for this game,” LaFountain said. “We are ready to come out on top, but it will be a dog fight. I can feel the excitement for this week. Every week is exciting, but this week seems to be on overdrive knowing the importance of this game. Still, we are all locked in and ready to keep that trophy at Glenelg.”
In the regional standings, Glenelg currently sits tied for second with Howard behind undefeated Atholton and River Hill. The team looks to make another playoff run, despite losing a number of senior role players.
Still, according to Pushek, the team is in a good position.
“We have what it takes to be special in our locker room,” Pushek said. “Everyone wants to compare this team to last year's team or just assume this is going to be a rebuilding year. I like our guys and our coaches bust their butts trying to put us in the right positions that allow us to just play football. We have a lot of first year varsity players and it does take time to adjust, but we are getting better and better each week and I like our chances week in and week out.”