BALTIMORE - When it comes to Gilman football, anything less than an MIAA A Conference title is considered an unsuccessful season.
Gilman has won 11 conference crowns over the past 17 seasons, but enters the 2014 campaign as a motivated hunter instead of being the hunted. That is because the Greyhounds lost out to McDonough for the title last year; a season in which Gilman went 7-3 and lost to its archrival 37-6. That loss represented Gilman’s worst defeat in the nearly 100-year-old rivalry since 1969.
“We are used to winning here,” Gilman coach Biff Poggi said. “Losing the way we did last season has been highly motivating for us and we’ve had a great offseason of preparation getting ready for this year.”
Gilman appears poised to post a bounce back season with 42 letter winners returning. This includes several Division I recruits such as Florida State-bound quarterback Kai Locksley, Northwestern-bound Jelani Roberts and junior defensive tackle Ellison Jordan.
Locksley, the son of University of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said last season was difficult on many levels. Losing to McDonogh was bad enough, he said, but falling in such a lopsided manner was a humbling experience -- one he will never forget.
“We want to be the best and we are entering this season hoping to prove just that,” Locksley said.
Jordan added that he and others are doing everything they can to ensure they help Gilman get back to the top.
“We need to play better and we know that,” Jordan said. “The only way to do that is to work hard and play the best teams we can possibly play. We’re ready for a big bounce back season in 2014.”
Gilman will have plenty of chances to prove just how good they are – both locally and nationally – before ever even getting into conference play.
That’s because for the third straight year, the Greyhounds will open the season Aug. 31 on national TV when they travel to Ohio to face nationally-ranked St. Edward. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. After that, Gilman will play New Jersey power Paramus Catholic Sept. 6 at Towson University. The Greyhounds also host Washington, D.C. area power Good Counsel before entering conference play.
“We will know where we stand as a team before getting into league play,” Poggi said. “We set a schedule that tests our players to help them reach their full potential. You don’t get that by playing a bunch of easy teams. Our league is as tough as it comes in Maryland. Our kids win a league title every 1.5 years here, so they are not used to losing and they don’t expect to do that this year.”
- Aug. 31 at St. Edward, 4 p.m.
- Sept. 6 vs. Paramus Catholic at Towson University, 11 a.m.
- Sept. 12 vs. Anacostia, 4 p.m.
- Sept. 19 vs. Good Counsel, 4 p.m.
- Sept. 26 vs. St. Frances Academy, 4 p.m.
- Oct. 2 at Archbishop Spalding, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 10 vs. Loyola Blakefield, 4 p.m.
- Oct. 17 vs. Friendship Academy, 4 p.m.
- Oct. 25 at Mount St. Joseph, 2 p.m.
- Oct. 31 at Calvert Hall College, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 8 vs. McDonogh School 1 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Kai Locksley (QB, 6-5, 205, Sr.)
- Jelani Roberts (WR, 5-8, 175, Sr.)
- Jahee Jackson (OT, 6-4, 285, Sr.)
- Stephen Spanellis (OG, 6-6. 315, Jr.)
- Antonio Dupree (RB, 5-11, 205, Jr.)
- Robert Branch (SS, 6-2, 210, Sr.)
- Alonzo Mayo (CB, 5-11, 180, Sr.)
- Amyr Barber (CB, 5-11, 180 Sr.)
- Dorian Maddox (LB, 5-11, 205, Jr.)
- Ellison Jordan (DT, 6-1, 260, Jr.)