NEW PALESTINE — Most football connoisseurs know it as the “Wildcat” offense.

It’s the offensive alignment where the quarterback splits out to the side and a running back takes the direct snap from center.

At New Palestine, it’s called the “Wild-Kropp” another position to show the talents and skills of versatile senior Kyler Kropp.

Already a slot receiver and, at times, a running back, why not add quarterback to the list to?

During his time at New Pal, Kropp has done a little bit of everything and done it very well.

“I’ll go wherever coach puts me,” Kropp said. “If I need to be playing wide receiver, whether it’s inside or slot, I’ll go there. If I need to go to running back if Grayson (Thomas) gets tired, I’ll go there. If we need to run Wildcat, I’ll go there.”

Primarily a slot receiver, Kropp took over first-team running back duties last season when Thomas was injured. He had played both positions this season, but not at quarterback until two weeks ago in a postseason rematch with rival Greenfield-Central.

Putting Kropp at quarterback wasn’t just a new wrinkle to find another way to get the ball in the hand of one of its big playmakers, it came out of necessity.

Backup quarterback Brady Armstrong had been injured in a midweek practice prior to the Week 6 game against Greenfield-Central. Ralph said they had to come up with a plan where the offense could still flow if something happened to sophomore starter Gavin Neal. With Armstrong out, the next in line was the quarterback on the freshman team.

That week of the regular-season meeting against Greenfield-Central, the Dragons started running the formation in practice, just in case they may need to go that route in a game.

There was no pushback from Kropp or Thomas.

“Brady’s injury was on a Wednesday and on a Thursday we installed it,” Ralph said. “We’re going to walk through this wildcat stuff and you would have thought it was Christmas for those two.

“How could you not love it? You get to play quarterback in high school and you’re not a quarterback. We’re doing things that highlight what our kids are good at. We’re using our weapons in different ways to make our team better.”

“Grayson and I have been asking to do Wildcat since our junior year,” Kropp said. “We always thought it would be really good. He put that in the playbook and it has worked really well for us … I love it.”

The Dragons didn’t use the formation in a game until the postseason meeting with the Cougars.

Kropp scored the game’s first two touchdowns, both as a Wildcat quarterback, to get the Dragons out to a 14-0 lead.

He had three rushing touchdowns that night in the Dragons 35-0 win. He rushed the ball 13 times for 124 yards. He also had both of the Dragons receptions for 29 more yards.

In last week’s 42-6 win over Mt. Vernon, Kropp, as a slot receiver, caught a pair of touchdown passes from sophomore Neal to help get the Dragons out to a 14-0 lead. He added a rushing touchdown later in the game.

On the night, he had three catches for 73 yards as a receiver and seven carries for 74 yards, as both a running back and quarterback.

He’s scored eight touchdowns in three tournament games, four rushing and four receiving.

He has 20 touchdowns on the season with 10 coming on the ground, nine on pass plays and another on a kickoff return.

On the year, he has 502 rushing yards, 741 receiving yards and 212 more yards on kickoff returns.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever used anybody in my 11 years here in as many different ways as we’ve used Kyler and he’s been good at all of them,” Ralph said. “What he’s doing right now receiving and rushing in the same season has never been done. When you combine the yardage together it’s an incredible season. To be that balanced receiving and rushing, his kick return stuff, all of the special teams he plays, playing defense some if we need it, quarterback, it’s a lot. It’s been special to watch.”

Ralph mentioned similar players during his time at NPHS, noting recent grads Blaine Nunnally (2023), Isaiah Thacker (2023), and Maxen Hook (2020), as well as former players now assistant coaches Nick Brickens (2016) and Garrett Kuhn (2013).

“A testament to all of those guys we’ve used in 10,000 different ways, they are all cut from the same cloth,” Ralph said. “They are unselfish and would do anything they are asked to do for us to win. Kyler is the next guy in line of tremendously versatile players that do whatever they are asked to do to make our program what it is and I am proud of that.”

Friday’s Class 4A Regional Games

7 p.m. – No. 12 New Prairie (10-2) at No. 11 NorthWood (10-2)

7 p.m. – No. 10 Leo (10-2) at No. 5 Mississinewa (12-0)

7 p.m. – Mooresville (7-5) at No. 3 New Palestine (10-2)

7:30 p.m. – No. 1 East Central (12-0) at No. 15 Evansville Memorial (9-3)

Game Capsule

Mooresville (7-5) at No. 3 New Palestine (10-2)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Mike Gillin, 59-27 in 7th year at Mooresville, 364-144 in 45th year overall. Kyle Ralph 126-13 in 11th year at New Palestine.

Recent history: Friday’s regional championship game is first meeting since Mooresville won the 2004 season opener over the Dragons, 34-0. Pioneers lead the series 7-1.

Sagarin ratings: Mooresville 72.46, 52nd overall, 12th in 4A. New Palestine, 92.82, 9th overall, 2nd in 4A.

Players to watch: Mooresville – QB Hogan Denny, WR/FS Levi Dorn, RB/MLB Landon Clements, LB Kaiden Samuels, DE/TE Hunter Bennett, CB/WR Kaden Bruhn, FS/WR JJ Knight, LB/WR Avery Thompson, RB/LB Trey Bennett. New Palestine — RB/LS Grayson Thomas, OL/DL Ian Moore, OL/DL Brock Brownfield, RB/WR Kyler Kropp, DL/OL Michael Thacker, QB Gavin Neal, LB Josh Ranes, LB Garrett Ranes, WR/S Cameron Rollyson, DB/WR Mason Hiatt, WR/LB Mason Oglesby, WR Ty Mitchell, DB Caden Jacobia, DB/KR Micah Clark, P/K Jake Wells.

What to look for: The Dragons have picked up their play in the postseason. Their starting defense has not given up a score in three sectional wins. They’ll get a huge test in Denny, who Ralph said is one of the better players the Dragons have faced during his time at NPHS. Denny has thrown for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000. Mooresville’s overall record is deceiving, too. Four of the Pioneers five losses have come to Class 5A schools. The lone 4A loss was a 38-35 decision to rival Martinsville. The Artesians are the only Indiana school to score more than seven points against Class 4A No. 1 East Central. New Pal’s two losses are to a 5A (Decatur Central) and 6A (Westfield) sectional champion. Along with buckling down on the defensive side, New Palestine is averaging 38.83 points per game for the season. Since a 21-14 Week 6 win over Greenfield-Central, the Dragons are averaging 43.7 points per game and giving up just 4.5. No team has scored double figures since their first win over the Cougars. That scoring average is 46.7 in three playoff games, while the defensive average is only 2.0. Kropp has eight of his 20 touchdowns in three postseason games.

2023 Hancock County Football Statistical Leaders



Mason Meyer, Mt. Vernon;6;21;36;387;.583;64.5;4;1;120.9

Gavin Neal, New Palestine;12;72;126;1335;.571;111.3;14;8;104.4

Dallas Freeman, Greenfield-Central;11;113;182;1444;.621;131.3;19;8;103.4

Elijah Edon, Eastern Hancock;12;139;224;1830;.621;152.5;17;7;100.1

Luke Ertel, Mt. Vernon;7;88;148;1181;.595;168.7;10;3;99.0

Tyler Etherington, Mt. Vernon;12;23;56;379;.411;31.6;5;3;71.9


Name, School;G;CAR;YDS;AVG;Y/G;TD

Grayson Thomas, New Palestine;12;299;2122;7.1;176.8;28

Joliba Brogan, Mt. Vernon;12;229;1733;7.6;144.4;21

Mark Kube, Eastern Hancock;12;225;1610;7.2;134.2;24

Braylen Benavente, Greenfield-Central;8;130;598;4.6;74.8;1

Dallas Freeman, Greenfield-Central;11;115;761;6.6;69.2;8


Name, School;G;REC;YDS;AVG;Y/G;TD

Kirk Knecht, Greenfield-Central;11;41;705;17.2;64.1;10

Kyler Kropp, New Palestine;12;34;741;21.8;61.8;9

Tre Jones, Mt. Vernon;12;40;683;17.1;56.9;8

Eli Manship, Eastern Hancock;11;43;571;13.3;51.9;3

Chris Edmonds, Mt. Vernon;10;19;418;22.0;41.8;3


Name, School;G;S;A;T;T/G;TFL

Jake Hinton, Greenfield-Central;11;71;27;98;8.9;20.0

Cameron Volz, Eastern Hancock;12;73;34;107;8.9;2.0

Garrett Ranes, New Palestine;12;63;32;95;7.9;15.5

Gabe Johnson, Eastern Hancock;12;65;27;92;7.7;10.5

Ayden Trueblood, Eastern Hancock;12;47;42;89;7.4;6.0


Name, School;G;S;S/G

Michael Thacker, New Palestine;6;5.0;0.8

Shawn Taylor, Mt. Vernon;12;7.0;0.6

Evan Wheeler, Eastern Hancock;12;5.5;0.5

Zaidyn Ramsey-Fox, Mt. Vernon;11;4.5;0.4

Payton Foley, Greenfield-Central;11;4.5;0.4

Jake Hinton, Greenfield-Central;11;4.5;0.4


Name, School;G;I;I/G

Dylan Bowman, Eastern Hancock;10;4;0.4

Kirk Knecht, Greenfield-Central;11;4;0.4

Mason Hiatt, New Palestine;10;3;0.3

Caden Jacobia, New Palestine;11;3;0.3

Caiden Willis, Eastern Hancock;12;3;0.3

Six players have two interceptions


Name, School;P;YDS;AVE

Aaron Redmon, Eastern Hancock;20;727;36.4

Cooper Hinton, Greenfield-Central;6;204;34.0

Jake Wells, New Palestine;23;747;32.5

John Duncan, Mt. Vernon;36;1090;30.3

Aaron Lee, Greenfield-Central;8;198;24.8


Name, School;K;P;T

Tre Jones, Mt. Vernon;765;62;827

Cameron Volz, Eastern Hancock;277;158;435

Kirk Knecht, Greenfield-Central;240;30;270

Cooper Hinton, Greenfield-Central;226;0;226

Kyler Kropp, New Palestine;212;0;212


Name, School;G;TD;CONV;S;K;TP;P/G

Grayson Thomas, New Palestine;12;28;0;0;0;168;14.0

Mark Kube, Eastern Hancock;12;24;0;0;0;144;12.0

Joliba Brogan, Mt. Vernon;12;22;0;0;0;132;11.0

Kyler Kropp, New Palestine;12;20;0;0;0;120;10.0

Kirk Knecht, Greenfield-Central;11;13;4;0;0;82;7.5