You wouldn't often say a team with a 2-5 record and two straight losses is on the rise.
However, that appears to be the situation with the Apollo High School football team.
The Eagles may have turned around their season last Friday with a 20-13 setback at Henderson County. Though they lost, which wasn't great for Apollo folks, the Eagles played perhaps as well as they have in any game this season, including their two victories.
Henderson County was the second-best team, maybe the third best, that Apollo has played thus far, following Owensboro and possibly McCracken County, which scored 81 points against the Eagles while surrendering 51.
Henderson County, meanwhile, only managed 20 points, while it allowed 13. The overall level of football, however, was better in the Henderson County game than the McCracken County contest, as players on both teams were tackling and not allowing open lanes to the end zone.
Apollo quarterback Damian Lovinsky kept his offense moving, although there was nothing fancy about what the Eagles were doing, as they consistently gave the ball to running back Harold Hogg and let him drag tacklers, which was a pretty effective offense.
Unfortunately, Apollo's offense dragged to a near hault after Lovinsky left the game in the late second quarter with an injury and didn't return.
It was a game Apollo certainly thought it could win, just as much as it was a contest Henderson County felt lucky to survive.
Apollo will be trying to survive another 6-A district challenge this week at Marshall County, and they'll be without Lovinsky, who is sitting out the game as a precaution, according to Apollo coach Phillip Hawkins. Chase Rhinerson, who played the second half against Henderson County, is scheduled to be the Eagles' starter at quarterback.
Hawkins and his team had a firm belief that they could contend against the Colonels. A few tough teams early nicked up the Eagles, but Hawkins believed they had improved through the losses. And Apollo's coaches spent a lot of the team's bye week convincing its players they could line up and compete with Henderson County.
"We're a better football team than we were last year," Hawkins said. "I think the kids have weathered the storm."
Apollo has some talent and can get some things done on the football field. Still, the Eagles weren't getting much traction as the number of games on the schedule began shrinking. But Apollo moved some people around before facing Henderson County, and coupled with what Hawkins termed "intense" practices leading into last week's game, it made an impact.
While Apollo will have to overcome the challenge of not having Lovinsky this week, the Eagles appear positioned to take another step forward and get a much-needed win at Marshall County.