Wesley notebook: Defensive lineman Glover eyes opener Friday, is set to honor Drass

Nick Glover said adjusting to a new scheme and new techniques hasn’t always been easy this preseason. But he said the defense is coming around now. Delaware State News file photo

DOVER — Chip Knapp remembers when he was showing Joe Bottiglieri some of his new players.

Bottiglieri, the first-year Wesley College defensive coordinator, was particularly impressed with the tape he saw of lineman Nick Glover.

“He looked at Nick and he was like, ‘Wow, that guy is good,’” said Knapp. “‘He’s going to play for us next year?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s playing.’

“He (Bottiglieri) was pretty excited. You don’t see guys that can stop the run and do what Nick does on the defensive interior very often in Division III.”

With Glover now a senior, the No. 9 Wolverines are expecting big things out of the Dover High grad when they open the season on Friday at 7 p.m. by hosting 17th-ranked Delaware Valley.

Before the contest, Wesley will have a moment of silence for Mike Drass, the former head coach who passed away in May.

Considering Drass was also the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator, it figures to be an emotional evening for veteran players like Glover. The 6-foot-1, 292-pound defensive tackle played in 28 games under Drass.

“I remember the first game of the season (in past years),” said Glover. “Coach Drass would come in the locker room and be like, ‘Do your job. Do your job. Make sure you do this, make sure you do that.’

Nick Glover

“Now since he’s gone, we’re going to look around for him. There might be a few tears here and there. But we know we can’t let our emotions get in the way. We’ve got to do this for him.”

Clearly, with Bottiglieri running the defense, some things will be different. Bottiglieri, who was Drass’ college head coach at Mansfield, has been coaching for 47 years, including stops at places like William & Mary, Lehigh and Rhode Island.

Glover said adjusting to a new scheme and new techniques hasn’t always been easy this preseason. But he said the defense is coming around now.

“It’s getting a lot easier for me now,” said Glover. “You’ve always got to keep an open mind. Sometimes I do think about certain plays that we do for Coach ‘Bot’ and I do still think about Coach Drass — ‘No, this how Coach Drass did it.’

Mike Drass

“You’ve got to just have that mindset that Coach Drass, rest his soul, he’s gone. Now you’ve got another coach that knows what he’s talking about. He knows how to run the game — he’s been doing it for years. You just have to keep that mindset that ‘I’m going to do what he says, do my job and make plays.’”

Glover said the one thing Bottiglieri has in common with Drass is the way he yells at the defense when they don’t do something right.

“I see Coach Bot,” said Glover, “but I hear Coach Drass.”

While the mental part of learning a new defense has had its challenges, Glover says this is about the best shape he’s been in physically.

He came back from knee surgery earlier in his career. In some ways, Glover feels like his college career has been building up to this season.

“I know what I need to do now,” he said. “It’s ‘go’ time — leave everything on the field now. I’ve been working way too hard this off-season — in the weight room, just making sure that my body is right, just making sure that I’m ready. And I will be ready Friday.”

Something to prove

While they haven’t played every season, Wesley and DelVal have a pretty good rivalry going.

The all-time series is tied at 5-5.

But the Aggies have especially been a thorn in the Wolverines’ side lately. DelVal has beaten Wesley in its last two season openers and has won each of the last three meetings when they have faced each other in the Wolverines’ first game of the year.

Or put it this way, Wesley is 10-3 in its last 13 season openers with all three setbacks coming against the Aggies.

Wesley is well aware of the recent history, of course.

“They beat us the last two years and that’s not something we’re used to,” said Knapp. “They deservedly won those games.

“There’s a learning curve sometimes with the season opener. When you play a tough opponent, if you do have a weakness, it gets exposed. It’s different things each year. And Delaware Valley, to their credit, they do a good job of exploiting our weaknesses.”

“Oh yes, we definitely have something to prove,” said Glover. “We beat ourselves — turnovers, bad assignments, not reading keys. … But now we have this mindset that we cannot lose this game. We have to come out and dominate no matter what.”

Extra points

A special tailgate, hosted by Wesley football alumni Chris Furrule, Fran Naselli and Joe Naselli, will be held in the grass lot across the street from the stadium. Food, drinks, and games will be available prior to the contest. Access to the tailgate is $50 per person with proceeds benefitting the football program. … One Wesley player will have a unique perspective on Friday’s game. Freshman defensive back Odion Okojie has a twin brother, Akhere, playing for DelVal. … Sussex Tech High grad Timaun Williams is a junior defensive back for the Aggies. … Former Dover High standout Marcellus Pack, who was a slot receiver at the start of camp, is now listed as a defensive back/athlete.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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