The mooredeals.com game of the week on HRN features a big time city-county matchup as Apollo travels about 5 minutes from campus to take on Owensboro Catholic at Steele Stadium. History tells us that Owensboro Catholic should win this game, as Apollo hasn’t won since 2009, when the Eagles won 34-14 at Steele Stadium. That was Harris Bivin’s senior year and Hunter Bivin’s freshman year for perspective about how long it’s been.
If you take history aside, this year’s matchup is pretty even on paper. Owensboro Catholic and Apollo have shown flashes of greatness, while both took big losses in the Border Bowl. However, Reitz and Central are arguably Indiana’s two best teams in class 4A. Owensboro Catholic comes into the game and uncharacteristic 2-2, but the Aces still have plenty of weapons. Running back Von Williams is a threat to pick up big yardage every time he touches the ball and wide receivers Nick Mills and Kobe Hamilton provide big play capability outside. The offensive line has been the biggest struggle for the Aces so far this season as Williams has been largely held in check. To top it off, Will Warren, the Aces star junior quarterback, quit the team last weekend. The unusual statistic that has me concerned about the Aces, is the fact that they are giving up 31.5 points per game. For coach John Edge, that is completely unacceptable, and I’d be shocked if that number didn’t drastically decrease as the season moved along. One shining star for the Aces defense has been Josh Sloan, who has an astounding 65 tackles already this season.
Apollo, on the other hand, is experiencing success that the Eagle’s haven’t enjoyed since the 2009 season. In fairness, Apollo hasn’t played quit as tough as an early schedule as Catholic, but the Apollo offense is flying high. It starts up front with Apollo’s big offensive line, which has allowed junior quarterback Colby Clark to settle in and be productive. It’s also allowed Apollo’s bevy of running backs to see yardage. Mariano McKenzie leads the way in the backfield, but Nic Brooks and Sam Parm have the speed to hit a big play any time they touch the ball. All-state candidate Peyton Peters is having a fantastic senior campaign at wide receiver and also has game breaking ability in the return game. On the defensive line, Quentin Miller and Jace Southerland are as good of a 1-2 punch you’ll find on this side of the state. Daelin Kennedy and Gatlin Humphrey have been highly productive at linebackers with Pressley Peters having a great year at defensive back.
So what gives tonight? Catholic shouldn’t lose much if any production with the emergence of sophomore Drew Hartz into the quarterback position. Hartz gives the Aces and element of the zone read that can keep defenses honest. Apollo will look to answer with dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides. As I take a step back from the game, I typically go with this thought: who is the more all around talented team? Every year, when this game comes around, I say Catholic and I don’t even have to think. However, in 2017, I honestly think Apollo has the more talented roster on the field. So if the Eagles are more talented as I think, then the solution for Apollo is simple. Don’t throw interceptions, don’t fumble the ball, and don’t commit stupid penalties.
Apollo football is at a crossroads. Dan Crume will be stepping down at the end of the season to be a full time athletic director at Apollo High School. If the Crume era ends with a high successful year, it has to bode well for the coaching search that’ll take place following the season. The mainstream thought is that Apollo has the potential to be a good football school. Dan Gooch showed us that in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Dan Crume has had previous success at Ohio County and it’d be great to see coach Crume go out on a high note as he moves on to a new chapter in his life. A win in this game, and a run at the district title could also open Apollo up a broader range of coaches who may be interested in the job as well. Not only does Apollo have a legitimate chance to win city-county this year, but the Eagles will be a factor in the district race.
Will Apollo finish the Crume era on a high note? Can Apollo buck the trend of recent history and make a new path for the program? The script is blank, and it’s up to this version of the Eagles to write their own story. One thing is for sure, coach Edge believes in making your own way through hard work, execution, in game adjustments, and championship mentality.
I think Apollo wins tonight, but the Eagles will have to beat history, the old mentality, and of course, John Edge. Changing the culture can be done, but it’s never done easily. Just ask Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops. See you guys tonight on the Mixlr app at 7pm on the Homers Radio Network! Click here to listen: mixlr.com/homers-radio/