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RIVER VALLEY FOOTBALL: Glover’s energy and enthusiasm on the field are uplifting for his Greenwood teammates, but he’s more than just a jokester

GLOVER’S ENTHUSIASM ON THE FIELD UPLIFTING FOR HIS GREENWOOD TEAMMATES by Leland Barclay Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette | September 2, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
Greenwood running back Jake Glover (33) carries the ball against Fayetteville in a scrimmage earlier this season. Greenwood will try to bounce back from a season-opening loss as the Bulldogs host Fort Smith Northside tonight at Smith-Robinson Stadium. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

GREENWOOD -- Jake Glover provides much more than just yards and touchdowns for Greenwood.

"Jake brings the energy for sure," Greenwood coach Chris Young said. "He's a little guy but he's going to go 100 percent every time. He's contagious to his teammates. It's good to have him back out there because it spreads to the rest of the guys."

Glover (5-6, 150), a senior running back, enjoys playing football again and likes bringing some humor to his teammates.

"I try to bring the energy," Glover said. "I definitely talk a little bit in football. I just try to have fun and enjoy it a lot."

He also provides a calming effect on senior quarterback Hunter Houston, who's more serious in his approach to the game.

"Hunter is a funny guy but he gets all in his shell," Glover said. "He forgets we're out here having fun sometimes. I just try to remind him."

Glover and Houston have formed a bond in the backfield.

"It's great having Jake back in the backfield," Houston said. "He kind of loosens me up a little bit, joking around. I'm really serious. He gets back there and starts joking. He's really loose. I get him back straight, and he loosens me up. We play off each other."

Glover missed the last half of last season after suffering a spiral fracture in his leg on just his third carry against Russellville.

"That was a really sickening feeling," Young said. "It's bad when anybody gets hurt, but he's a kid that leaves it all on the field. He had an awesome offseason and for the first time was the guy at running back. To see his season end like that was hard."

Despite being carted off the field, Glover was still ready to play.

"First thing, when I was on the ground, I asked coach Young if he thought I was going to be able to play," Glover said. "I was ready to play."

Glover had his best game the week before the injury with 22 carries for 209 yards and touchdown runs of 23, 54, 1 and 3 yards in a 54-17 win over Siloam Springs.

"It was definitely hard physically but it was a mental battle," Glover said. "I'm not a big guy. I'm not physically gifted on the football field. I worked really hard to get where I was. I finally was at a place where I was happy, and then, three minutes it's over. It was hard. I'm back out here and putting the work in."

With Glover in the lineup, Greenwood averaged 211 yards per game rushing in the first six games of the season. Without Glover, the Bulldogs averaged 122 yards per game on the ground in the final seven games.

"He came back and worked his tail off after surgery and had a great summer," Young said. "He didn't make excuses."

Glover had surgery and couldn't walk for six months, and he was even told he wouldn't run again.

"I knew I was going to play again," Glover said. "I knew what I had to do."

The somewhat stubborn Glover hobbled around during that time on a wheeled mobility knee walker.

"I refused to use crutches and have everybody do everything for me," Glover said.

Young was cautious with Glover this summer in team camps and 7-on-7 camps and tournaments although Glover was eager to go full speed again.

"We held him out of a lot of camps this summer, and he wasn't happy about that but we told him we wanted to see him play on Friday nights," Young said. "|I enjoy watching him play."

Glover even felt responsible last December as he stood on the sideline at War Memorial Stadium in Greenwood's 27-17 loss to El Dorado in the Class 6A championship game. The Bulldogs were held to negative 44 yards rushing.

"I feel responsible as anybody would being in that position knowing that if I was on the field I could help the team," Glover said. "I felt helpless. I couldn't do anything about it."

He also felt responsible last Friday when Greenwood opened the season with a 41-27 loss at Stillwater, Okla., with the Bulldogs managing just 77 rushing yards.

"They were a talented football team," Glover said. "We're a good football team. Not everything came together like I thought it should. I know my job is to block and protect and run the ball. That night, I struggled to do that."

Greenwood faces another enormous challenge this week as they play Northside in the home opener. Glover knows the Bulldogs will play better this week.

"I have no doubt," Glover said. "I feel really confident how we're going to play."

The Bulldogs have a potent passing attack but started a ninth-grader and a 10th-grader on the offensive line last week.

"We're young," Young said. "We're going to get better as the year goes along but we've got to be able to run the football. A lot of times they were doing different stuff that was hard defensively but Northside definitely has a defensive front, too. We know we're going to have to run the football to be successful. You've got to do both at this level, and that's been one of our areas of focus this week."

The driven Glover, who is just 5-5, 145 pounds, has a dream of continuing his playing career after high school.

"After high school, I'd love to go play college football but I know for a guy my size it's kind of a hard dream to have," Glover said. "I'm just going to keep grinding and doing good in school, and see what opportunities come my way."

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