Ashwell gave Glenelg winning attitude Coach of the Year 1992 ALL-HOWARD COUNTY FOOTBALL TEAM

November 29, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

The dramatic turnaround in Glenelg's football program came about because of many factors.

Senior halfback Paul Brosenne, with his outstanding strength and determined running, dragged the Gladiators to success. Other seniors, like Randy Garland, Jason Caulder and Jason Beall, transformed the defense from a patsy into one of the county's more resilient, opportunistic units.

But the seeds of the Gladiators' rebirth -- from a 2-8 doormat last year to an 8-2 playoff team this year -- were sown by second-year coach Ed Ashwell. A new attitude had settled within the program before the season's opening kickoff.

"If you're used to losing, you begin to accept it. I told the kids over and over don't ever get used to it," said Ashwell, The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Football Coach of the Year.

"I don't like to lose and that's what we tried to instill in the kids. Getting it through their heads that they were good enough to win, that was a big step."

Ashwell's words carried heavy weight. As a 10-year assistant coach at Wilde Lake, he had been part of two state-championship teams and with a program that has been the county's yardstick for two decades.

And his rookie season last year -- which included a 58-0 walloping by the Wildecats -- infused Ashwell with more resolve to turn the Gladiators around.

"I started working on this season right after that game," Ashwell recalled. "That was the lowest point in my career."

Ashwell's first order of business was getting the team committed to one of the foundations of winning -- the weight room. During the off-season, led by players like Brosenne, the Gladiators increased their strength dramatically.

The signs were encouraging in August. The team reported in excellent shape, Brosenne looked like a back that could carry the offense, and the seniors were talking confidently about a turnaround.

Still, Ashwell had to take a team that lacked speed and winning tradition and somehow transform it into an overnight contender. He preached constantly about ball control, about forcing mistakes, about getting off to a good start.

The Gladiators complied with victories over Liberty, South Carroll and Oakland Mills to get off to a 3-1 start. Then, in the fifth week at Howard, Glenelg turned the corner with a 22-14 victory behind a gritty, 221-yard rushing performance by Brosenne.

Glenelg would go on to win eight regular-season games, thanks to Brosenne, fast-maturing sophomore quarterback Sean Lookingbill and a defense that bent often -- giving up over 200 yards a game -- but rarely broke. Glenelg forced 32 turnovers, while losing the ball just 17 times.

Ashwell held the package together.

Even after Glenelg suffered a 36-6 whipping by Damascus in the 2A quarterfinals, Ashwell could take pride in guiding the Gladiators to their first playoff appearance in seven years.

"We realized our strengths, and we got better at what we did best," Ashwell said. "We got a few breaks we didn't get last year. We took it to the furthest point we could this year, and we just ran out of rope.

"We played like a real team. And I think we're a team that can contend for the county title year after year."

And the Gladiators believe every word.

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