The Apollo Eagles are hoping a strong core of returning players will help them to improve on their 2017 5-5 season.  The Eagles currently roster 23 seniors on the squad.

“It’s a tight group, our juniors and seniors especially mesh well,” head coach Justin Skaalerud said. “They fill each other’s voids a little bit, and that’s what you need.”

2017’s 5-5 campaign came on the heels of back-to-back 1-8 seasons, with both wins coming against Cambridge-Isanti, as the Eagles developed younger players.

“You never really want to go through cycles in football, you want to be consistent,” Skaalerud said at a recent practice. “We’ve taken our lumps, but last year we had a successful 5-5 season.

“We have been preaching for the younger guys to pay attention to these older guys, doing it the right way like they do.”

Among Apollo’s senior leaders are running back Clifton Patterson, quarterback Neal Benson, linebacker Chris Hance and offensive/defensive lineman Isaac Erickson-Thoemke.

Hance is quick to note this team has developed not just over the last few varsity seasons, but rather since grade school.

“We’ve all been working together since we were little kids,” Hance said. “We all have this big trust that we are going to get this done as one team.”

Patterson says that the seniors’ leadership is the very foundation that will be so cruicial to the team’s success.

“That leadership is going to build a heavy structure, to make sure we are all confident,” Patterson said. “We are together as a team and we do everything together, to make sure our goal is completed.”

“We’ve been together for a long time, we’ve had a lot of success,” Benson said. “Obviously over the years we have been improving and we are excited to really make some noise this year.”

Erickson-Thoemke says that having such a big senior class takes the burden of leadership off of one or two guys and instead can be shared by many.

“We don’t need to worry about anyone stepping up,” Erickson-Thoemke said. “Every senior is kind of a captain this year.”

Skaalerud, who is in his first year as Activities Director at Apollo, says he is very excited to see what his team has in store this year.

“There’s excitement for Apollo everything right now,” Skaalerud said. “We expect to have a successful football season, we have a group of seniors across the board that have really put in the time, it is going to be a really fun fall over here.”

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