ST. CLOUD -- The Apollo Eagles are hoping that the lumps they took during 2016’s 1-8 campaign will translate to wins in 2017. The Eagles certainly did not struggle to score points last season, averaging 24.2 points per game.

“We bring back 17 returning starters after starting ten sophomores last season. We have a great number of tenth through twelfth graders coming back this season,” head coach Justin Skaalerud said.

One hole the Eagles will need to fill is at the quarterback position, as Apollo lost 2016 starter Joey Atkinson to graduation.

“We’ve got a great junior quarterback in Neal Benson, who has done a great job with that grade and will get a chance to be our varsity quarterback. He was also voted a junior captain which shows the team’s faith in him and his leadership.”

Senior Blake Louangshyharaj sees a leader in Benson as well.

“What I see in Neal is that he likes to lead, he doesn’t like to sit back and watch people. “He’s more vocal than others and I am happy he was voted a junior captain.”

 

“This team has been together for quite awhile, we have pretty big goals. We are hoping to go to state and looking to win the (district)… we are hoping for a great year,” Benson said.

Benson was on the sidelines last season under Atkinson and he says that he learned about playing at the varsity level.

"The game is quicker and you have to be a little sharper. “Guys are bigger, faster and stronger.”

Louangshyharaj says that this year’s Apollo team is a tight-knit group.

“I feel like we all like to play together, we get along really well. “We don’t bicker and we are able to get to the point at practice.”

The Apollo Eagles face St. Cloud Tech at home on Friday.