By Chase Hensing
After a disappointing end to a great season, the Glenelg Gladiators have returned to the colosseum with one goal in mind; winning a state championship. The Gladiators have started off the 2019 season hot, opening up with two straight wins against tough opponents such as Marriotts Ridge and Smyrna. Head Coach Cullen says,“These early wins are very important to build momentum that we hope can carry us into another championship.” The Gladiators have had to adapt to many new challenges in order for them to get back to their winning ways.
Glenelg has drastic differences from last year's team. These changes include a new head coach in Tim Cullen, and a loss of many star Seniors such as Wande Owens, Tyler Reiff, Sam Alsheimer, and Griffin Doyle. Kicker and punter, Chris Retzbach says, “We are handling things really well. Coach Cullen has adapted to his new role by reorganizing our film routine and practice drills. Also, our upperclassmen are really stepping up and leading the team.” Coach Cullen said, “We have a good squad, our goal is to forget how last year ended and focus on this season. We have a new squad and high hopes.” The Glads are focusing on having a short memory in order to succeed this year.
The Gladiators are also prioritizing sticking to their roots. The team is determined to keep up the tradition of having an explosive offensive unit that revolves around the quarterback and running back position. However, in order to have success on offense, the team needs a solid offensive line. Team captain and starting center, Kevin Pak, said “We clearly lost something special when Wande graduated, but we are focused on revolving the offense around guys such as Kyle Dry, Trey Fleece, Adrian Russell, and Trisden Bovello. Our coaches have also stressed the fact that blocking leads to them making plays.”
The team depends on their classmates to come to every game and make sure that there is a good energy to keep them hyped. Niko Garbis says, “I know a lot of the guys think it's special to be able to compete in front of our classmates and come out on top so often. We really do think it makes a difference and adds intensity. We need it.” Despite the many other changes to the team, the Gladiators are going to continue to use the ground and pound to dominate opponents and depend on the student body to come to the games and be loud.
The 2019 Glenelg Gladiators have made many changes to their team since their disappointing championship run the last season. The team has gotten a new head coach, filled holes from last year, improved the way they prepare for games, and started to build the offense around players who had smaller roles in years past. However, the team has kept a lot of what gave them such success in previous years such as focusing on the fundamentals of running the ball and making sure that the upperclassmen are prepared to lead the team and teach younger players. Despite the end of last season not being the one that the team or school wanted, the team is looking forward to make another good run this year.