After losing nearly all of their scoring offense from last season, the Apollo High School football team will rely heavily on a huge junior class to find success in 2019.
Leading the charge will be junior quarterback Damian Lovinsky, who showed flashes of potential in his limited opportunities last year. Head coach Phillip Hawkins, entering his second year with the Eagles, has plenty of confidence in his new signal caller.
“I don’t think it’s any particular secret that he’s a fairly talented kid,” Hawkins said. “It’ll be exciting to see how he pans out.”
Lovinsky threw only seven passes in 2018, completing four for 30 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 13 times for 139 yards and scored once.
The primary target entering the season will be senior Geoffrey Johnson, who led the Eagles last year with 30 receptions and 507 yards, scoring four touchdowns. Brandon Husk also returns after catching 15 passes for 181 yards.
Hawkins said a key addition this year is junior running back Harold Hogg, who transferred from Owensboro Catholic. Hogg was the second-leading rusher for the Aces a season ago, carrying the ball 60 times for 479 yards and four touchdowns.
“That addition has been a surprise,” Hawkins said. “He’s very talented and a fast kid. He can potentially do some good things for us.”
The Apollo defense will be anchored by junior defensive end Logan Weedman. He finished 2018 with 48 tackles — 18 of which went for loss — and a team-high 17 sacks. Hawkins said a strong linebacker core will also be key for the Eagles.
Yet another junior will take over duties on special teams, as Harrison Bowman is expected to be the kicker. Bowman — who also plays soccer — will have to replace Wes Knott, one of the best kickers in the area during his time with the Eagles.
“Harrison may be slow coming around because it’s new to him, but I think by midseason we’ll have a solid kicker again,” Hawkins said.
Apollo’s season begins at home Aug. 23 when they play Warren Central. After a pair of away games, the Eagles start a three-game home stretch when they host Owensboro on Sept. 13.
Apollo will host Daviess County in both teams’ final district game of the year on Oct. 25, and the Eagles close out the regular season at Owensboro Catholic on Nov. 1.
Hawkins said Apollo may look like a young team, but he thinks they’ve got what it takes to make a run at the end of the year.
“I think that although we may be young as far as playing a lot of juniors, they’re fairly weathered from what we’ve put them through in the last six months,” he said. “The kids have worked pretty hard this winter through now. I think they’re excited for the season and they’re going to play hard in games.”
Hawkins said the effort throughout the season will be one of the main focus points during his second year. While his tenure at Apollo got off to a solid 4-0 start, the Eagles finished the season 5-6 overall with a first-round exit in the playoffs.
With a rejuvenated squad and a hardened mentality, Hawkins expects fans to see a program on an upward trend.
“I think they’ll notice we’ve got some real speed in multiple spots,” he said. “They’ll probably see that we’ve got some fairly decent lineman in the program. Hopefully what will stick out the most is us playing hard and trying to keep ourselves in all these games — there’s a mental toughness about us. That’s the biggest thing for me.”