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May 5—The COVID-19 pandemic limited John Edge's ability to fully implement his system as head coach of the Apollo High School football team in 2020.
Edge is using spring practice in 2021 to rectify that, and the veteran coach is excited about the possibilities.
"Things are going very well out here," said Edge, whose Eagles went 4-4 last fall and were highly competitive against western Kentucky power McCracken County in a 21-13 loss during the first round of the KHSAA Class 6-A playoffs. "We've had a great turnout, and the kids are working hard, giving great effort in doing what we're asking them to do.
"We're maximizing our reps and we have a lot of competition for starting positions, having lost quite a few quality starters to graduation, but the idea is to get this system fully implemented this spring and be ready to go moving forward."
Offensively, Edge will employ the air raid offense that worked so well for him during his storied tenure at Owensboro Catholic.
"We definitely need to put more points on the board this season, and we need to finish better," Edge said. "The key to doing both things is to fully understand the concept of what we're trying to do.
"Last year, unfortunately, we just didn't have enough time to get everything put in the way we would have liked because of the pandemic."
The Eagles lost a host of offensive stars, both skill position players and linemen, but Edge is optimistic about the team's potential on the offensive side of the ball.
Three running backs have emerged as front-runners in the spring — junior Bryley Best, junior Dante Dixon and sophomore Noah Rhinerson.
"All of them are fast and we'll utilize their speed on both sides of the ball," Edge said. "They'll give us good depth and all will play on defense, as well."
At quarterback, Apollo is taking a long look at senior Chase Rhinerson and junior Christian Combs.
"They're both getting the same amount of reps this spring," Edge said of the pair. "They both throw the football very well."
The Eagles' multiple defense scheme is heavy on fundamentals this spring.
"We're going back to the basics, really, on both sides of the line — blocking and tackling are two of the most important skills needed to have a successful team," Edge said. "We're doing everything we can to make sure we're fundamentally sound at every position."
Edge likes his linebacking corps, in particular — a trio of returning starters that features senior Jarrod Gray, junior Morgan Eans and senior Dayton Brown.
Others expected to carry heavy loads include senior cornerback Kyler Rutter, junior lineman Bradyn Dant, junior lineman Kadin Howard, and sophomore linebacker Brady Ward.
Team building, meanwhile, is at the forefront for Edge and his Eagles.
"We just need to continue to get better every time we step on the field," Edge said. "We need to be who we are and not try to be something we're not — be the best we can be at what we do best.
"This team has a chance to have very good chemistry, and it's important for us to know our identity, to know who we are, as we move out of the spring and into the summer and beyond."