The Eagles head into their matchup with McCracken County on Friday on a three-game winning streak after victories over Owensboro Catholic, Daviess County and Marshall County in their final three weeks of the regular season.
John Edge is in his first year as head coach of the Apollo Eagles but he hasn’t wasted any time when it comes to changing the culture of the program.
“I think those wins were good wins to get us some confidence,” Edge said. “Any of those wins are good. We felt good about that. It’s better to go into playoffs with a winning record than it is with a losing record. We played some really good teams, a lot of good teams early on. I think that helped us. I think our schedule has helped us improve.
“These kids have decided they’re going to get coached up and they’ve accepted coaching. When you accept coaching, that’s when your team will get a lot better. They’re here for the team, not themselves.”
A pair of Eagle seniors agree.
“Old Apollo, we’re just trying to get that out of here,” Logan Weedman said. “Too many losses. The players, they’re not even looking forward to winning playoff games, they’re ready for the season to be over. I think our team now, we’re ready to keep the season going. Hopefully go on on a two or three-game win streak, maybe even five.”
Quarterback Damian Lovinsky said he wanted it to be their class that turned it around.
“We’ve just been ready to flip it around,” he said. “We were just tired of losing and we wanted to get to winning and start changing things. We wanted to be the ones to do it. We were the biggest class that’s probably came through in awhile so we just wanted to be the ones to do it.”
Like most teams around the state, the Eagles used the extra week off to rest up for their playoff game but he knows his team is prepared for the Mustangs.
“Our kids have been ready for a few weeks,” he said. “Ready to go, itching to play. We’ve come off of some really good wins right in a row. They’re excited, like any other high school teenage, they’re just anxious to get the game started.”
The Mustangs come into the game at 4-2 with back-to-back losses to Bowling Green and Henderson County.
McCracken took down Apollo 45-21 earlier this season but the Eagles held their own until the fourth quarter.
Edge said it’s not surprise who the Mustangs are going to go to and he knows their gameplan is solid on both sides of the ball.
“We know Hunter Bradley is going to get the ball a bunch,” he said. “Those receivers are going to run their crossing routes and we’ve just got to adjust to what they’re doing. Offensively, we’ve just got to get their linebackers blocked and we feel good about that.”
One of the issues for Apollo in recent years is the inability to close out games, Edge said that change has come with the new culture.
“We just got to finish,” he said. “The main thing is we’ve been playing well and we’ve just got to continue to keep that up. Everybody’s been off. They’ve been off and we’ve been off so everybody’s kind of on a level playing field.”
Weedman said it was just a few big plays from the Mustangs that got them the win last time but the Eagles are ready to snuff those out come Friday.
“At the beginning of the season, we had trouble finishing out games and we’ve gotten better at that every single game,” he said. “Also in that game, we had a few plays that they got that turned the tide, which I don’t think they’ll be any of those. It’ll be our game the whole game.”
Edge said they’ve focused on fine tuning things this week but he’s also not over-worked his team going into the contest. He said rather than practice for a couple of hours, they’ve limited it to 90 minutes.
Going into the season, Weedman and Lovinsky were just excited to take the field.
“There was a lot of uncertainty about what was going to happen,” Weedman said. “I was scared personally but I’m glad we get to come out here, work as a family, work as a team, improve the culture here. Come out here and win a playoff game soon.”
Lovinsky echoed his teammates sentiment.
“It was a breakthrough,” he said. “We were just ready to get at it once we figured out we were going to 100% be a go. We were just ready to get the work in and get ready and go through whatever protocol they needed us to.”
Weedman already knows where he’ll be next year as he’ll be at Tennessee Tech, suiting up for the Golden Eagles. But, that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang up his cleats on Friday.
“If you lose, you go home,” he said. “That’s it. I don’t want to go home because then my high school season would be over and then that’ll suck. We can’t go home, we can’t lose.”
Lovinsky said he’s ready to put it all on the line when they meet McCracken County Friday at Marquette Stadium.
“I think we just need to put it all on the table,” he said. “I think I need to let them know, this is it or we go home. I’m ready to go out there and put my life on the line, 100%, go full tilt. I feel like everybody else will just feel that energy coming from me and they’ll put it into their play as well.”