NEW PALESTINE — When Josh Glover moved to New Palestine prior to his junior year, he honestly didn’t know what to expect.

Coming from Lawrence North, a high school with 1,350 more students than New Palestine’s enrollment, Glover’s initial game plan entailed keeping his head down, playing football and moving on.

After the first day, however, Glover came to a realization. His agenda needed immediate revision.

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“I didn’t know how it was going to be coming from a bigger school. I was just going to do what I needed and get it over with, but it was more than that,” Glover recalled. “They brought me in like family as soon as I got here.”

It was a perfect fit for Glover, now a senior. New Palestine and Dragons football, he says, gave him the opportunity to grow as an athlete, a person and as a leader.

Named Class 5A Senior All-State by the Indiana Football Coaches Association this season, Glover made good on his two-year opportunity, which earned him the distinction of 2017 All-Hancock County Defensive Football Player of the Year.

“When Josh is out there, he’s going to give you absolutely everything he’s got,” New Palestine head coach Kyle Ralph remarked on his team captain’s approach to the game. “You don’t often get what we call a spark in your program a lot, but when you get one, you’re definitely a lot better off for it. Josh is one of those rare kids I’ve had in my five years that is a legitimate start. His presence lifts everyone else around him up.”

Not about the numbers

Glover didn’t lead the county in tackles nor his team, but he’s not disappointed. The focus for the high-energy linebacker has been the same since he first strapped on the pads as a youth in Lawrence Township.

“At a young age my parents always taught me to be the best leader possible and try to get everyone involved. They taught me how use my energy to move a crowd in a positive way,” Glover said. “I just always try to stay positive and have fun playing the game.”

The most enjoyment the 5-foot-4, 187-pound bundle of ferocity had on the field was watching the defense and his teammates execute. Whether seeing sophomore Maxen Hook build on his team-leading 69 tackles or junior linebacker Luke Ely team up with him for one of his 11.5 tackles for a loss. It was all the same.

“They all played well together, but if you take Josh out of that equation, then it hurts you a lot. Not just from a statistical standpoint, but from what he provides leadership wise. The great part about it was he didn’t do more than what was his job,” Ralph said. “He allowed the other players to do their jobs and played within the system.

“The stats might not be overwhelming compared to some guys from before, but that was a big part of our defense, playing well as a whole this year.”

Glover did his part while making an impression. He recorded 59 total tackles and averaged 5.9 per game. He led the unit with 15.5 tackles for a loss, tied Hook with 36 solos and blitzed through for 6.0 sacks, accounting for 47 yards lost. He posted four quarterback hurries and four pass defenses.

His efforts along with the likes of seniors Landon Burton, who ranked second in 5A for tackles (55) by a defensive lineman, and Logan Robinson, fourth in tackles for a loss (8.5) by a defensive line in 5A, secured the Dragons’ fifth straight undefeated regular season.

The Dragons extended their regular-season winning streak to 45 games and won the Hoosier Heritage Conference outright with a 7-0 record for their fifth straight title and 34th league win in a row.

Offering a response

With only a handful of seniors back for the 2017 season, including Glover, there were several naysayers telling the elder Dragons exactly what they were supposed to be. Glover and his classmates didn’t agree.

“We were written off and never really given a chance before the season started because our senior group was so small, and it gave us a chip. We went for it harder than we ever did before,” Glover said.

The first step was recruitment. With Bryson Cooper, Levi McKinney, Robinson and Jaxon Manes set to return, they first pursued senior J.T. Hoffman, a longtime friend of Glover’s. Once he committed to play, they zeroed in on Burton, a standout wrestler.

“There were only four or five of us after junior year, so it was going to be hard. Even coach sat us down and told us this senior group was going to be very important and we needed to step up our game. It was a challenge, but we just had to accept that challenge and push through the comments everyone was making about us. We wanted to prove people wrong,” Glover said. “We knew Hoffman and Burton would bump up our game, and they were leaders already coming as seniors.”

Their additions along with a talented mix of youth, led to 525 points scored on offense, the state’s No. 1 ranking and six games with eight or fewer points allowed by the Red Rage defense during their 10-1 campaign.

Putting in the work

“At Lawrence North, I really wasn’t dedicated my first two years. That was a big problem, honestly,” Glover said. “When I came into New Pal and started lifting, I liked it a lot more than I thought. I had to step up my game to be a leader, so being in that weight room I had goals. Coach Ralph said to play on this team you had to be strong and fast. That’s what clicked in my mind.”

A fullback at Lawrence North, Glover relied more on his natural speed and strength before heading to New Palestine.

His father, Lamont Glover, who was a running back at Indianapolis Arlington more than 30 years ago, jokes with his son, saying he was born with muscles because of his short stature.

But to crack the lineup as a junior and keep his spot this fall, Glover put in the work.

“When he got over to us, he realized it was time to grow up and get the best out himself,” Ralph said. “He increased his lift so much. His bench press went up by 70 or 80 pounds. His squat went up 100. His power clean went up 60 or 70 pounds as well. The amount of strength and as a result power output that he got was just incredible.

“Again, that’s where our kids attitudes are developed, in the weight room, and I think Josh very much became a leader for our program inside that room.”

Being the youngest of four played a key role as well, Glover admits. His oldest sister, Brittany Glover, is 32. His brother, Lamont, Jr., is 27, and his other sister, Brooke, is 24.

“I’m the baby by like seven years,” Glover said. “Being the youngest I was always the last to do stuff. Having older siblings is hard because I always got picked on and they were tougher than me. They pushed me a lot, though, like my parents. They’re my No. 1 supporters, making me a better person.”

His mother, Dottie, played tennis at Indianapolis John Marshall, but it was his father’s past that Glover aspired to match.

“My dad was really good in high school and made the paper a lot, so I felt like I had an expectation. I wanted to reach for where he reached,” Glover said. “He really worked with me a lot. He would take me out to the track to run. He helped me workout a lot.”

If the Name Fits

Besides his father, Glover has emulated two other players in his life. When he’s carrying the ball, he’s former NFL Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew. On defense, he’s all Troy Polamalu, former Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oddly enough, while playing, the local New Palestine radio broadcasters made the inadvertent connection, calling him the Tasmanian Devil, a nickname Polamalu was given en route to being the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“I like that a lot. (Polamalu) played with heart. He played with grit. He moved around the field, which I like. I try to play like him, actually,” Glover said. “That’s pretty cool that they called me that.”

And it’s fitting given Glover’s knack for always being in close proximity of the action like a whirlwind.

“He’s built like one that’s for sure,” Ralph laughed. “He’s just such a ball of energy, and you think of what that cartoon character was, and he’s very much like that. And to a degree, I’m not 100 percent sure of what he’s saying all the time.”

Glover would like for the nickname to stick next fall as he continues to pursue a future at the collegiate level. He plans to visit Franklin College, Wabash, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Benedictine University with an interest in nuclear medicine.

Just as he adopted a new position in high school, Glover isn’t opposed to playing all over the field in college, but he’d like to get another shot at running back.

Regardless, of where he ends up, Glover said, it won’t be easy leaving home.

“The brotherhood that these guys showed me is something I’ll always take with me. Once I graduate, I know I’ll always have those friends at New Pal,” Glover said. “I’d never gone to a school that really loved their town and their school that much. The entire town’s love for New Pal is something that won’t ever leave me. I love New Pal.”

2017 All-Hancock County Football Team: Defense

Pos., Player, Ht., Wt., Yr., School

DL: Max Burhenn, 6-5, 200, Jr., Mt. Vernon

DL: Landan Burton, 6-3, 235, Sr., New Palestine

DL: Logan Robinson, 5-11, 190, Sr., New Palestine

DL: Alexander Burton, 6-2, 220, Jr., Eastern Hancock

DL: Jacob Miller, 6-5, 205, Sr., Eastern Hancock

LB: Josh Glover, 5-4, 184, Sr., New Palestine

LB: Luke Ely, 6-0, 201, Jr., New Palestine

LB: Turk Faitele, 6-0, 215, Fr., Greenfield-Central

LB: Clayton Cochard, 6-0, 200, Sr., Eastern Hancock

LB: Robbie Campbell, 6-0, 190, Sr., Mt. Vernon

DB: J.T. Hoffman, 6-2, 170, Sr., New Palestine

DB: Maxen Hook, 6-1, 165, So., New Palestine

DB: Ryker Large, 5-7, 127, So., New Palestine

DB: Jaden Brown, 5-7, 145, Jr., Greenfield-Central

P: Eric Roudebush, 6-2, 179, So., New Palestine

Honorable Mentions 

Greenfield-Central — Chase Ratliff, Emmet Houser, Orlando Mojica. Mt. Vernon — Rylan Cole, Dylan Cole, Kraig Hancock, Noah Grill, Trevor Bond. New Palestine — Brody Luker, Kade Large, Kyle King. Eastern Hancock — Caleb Giddings, Mitch Guinn, Jarett Lewis.

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Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.