Prep football: Apollo tops Rocori 27-15 in opener

Prep football: Apollo tops Rocori 27-15 in opener

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Prep football: Apollo tops Rocori 27-15 in opener

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It’s not that the thrill of victory has diminished in the slightest for St. Cloud Apollo senior Bryce Kirchner and his teammates.

It’s just that this season that feeling is expected.

The Eagles — who snapped a 22-game losing streak last season en route to winning four of their final five — served notice that they will be a team to reckon with from the get-go this fall — beating Rocori 27-15 in their season opener Friday night at Michie Field.

It marked the first time Apollo has opened with a victory since head coach Justin Skaalerud’s first season at the school in 2010.

“Things have changed here,” said Kirchner, an offensive and defensive lineman. “We’ve been working hard and this is expected now. We know we’re a good football team. And we know if we play the way we’re capable of, good things are going to happen.”

They did from the very beginning Friday. After senior Noel Teigen returned the game’s opening kickoff 40 yards, the Eagles took just five plays to score on a 3-yard touchdown run by Alvord that put Apollo up 7-0.

“That was just what we wanted to do,” said Alvord, who threw for 98 yards and a touchdown while rushing for two more. “We wanted to come out and run the ball right away. Our line did a great job tonight. They took control of the line of scrimmage.”

Rocori moved the ball in the first half, but turned the ball over on downs at the Eagles’ 30 and 21-yard line on its first two possessions.

“It was just missed opportunities,” Spartans coach Mike Rowe said. “We have a young team and we have a lot of guys still trying to figure each other out. It’s a game of inches and we came up an inch short on a bunch of plays tonight.”

However, Rocori did score with 6:37 to play in the second quarter when senior Justin Kunkel hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from junior Skippy Virchow. But the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Eagles with a 7-6 lead. And Apollo extended that margin when Alvord scored on a 1-yard touchdown run that made the score 14-6 at halftime.

“We rose to the occasion defensively when we needed to,” Skaalerud said. “We have some things we still need to work on. We got fortunate a few times. But we made the plays when we needed to.”

The Spartans had a chance to climb back in the game when a high snap on an Eagles’ punting attempt sailed out of the back of the end zone for a safety that cut the gap to 14-8 with 8:46 to play in the third quarter. But Rocori went 3-and-out on its next possession and Apollo then marched 36 yards in five plays to score on a 4-yard touchdown run by senior Kyle Rosenthal.

The Eagles then extended the margin to 27-8 when Teigen took a screen pass 6 yards for a touchdown later in the third quarter. The Spartans added a late touchdown in the final minute of play, but by then the outcome had long been settled.

“A lot of these guys have been starting for three or four years now and they have a better understanding of what it takes to be successful,” Skaalerud said. “Our confidence is really starting to come out now. A couple of years ago, we might not have come back from a play like that botched punt. But tonight we shrugged it off. This is a different team than we’ve had in the past.”

Rocori 0 6 2 7 15
St. Cloud Apollo 7 7 13 0 27

SCA – Ben Alvord 3 run (Conner Waldron kick)

R — Justin Kunkel 8 pass from Skippy Virchow (run failed)

SCA — Alvord 1 run (Waldron kick)

R — Safety (high snap on punt rolled out the back of the end zone)

SCA — Kyle Rosenthal 4 run (pass failed)

SCA — Noel Teigen 6 pass from Alvord (Waldron kick)

R — Tim Hansen 21 run (Nicholas Skluzacek kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing: R — Hunter Ahrens 15-70, Alex Budde 1-45, Hansen 3-32, Curtis McCarney 8-13, Virchow 12-11, Colby Homer 2-9; Totals: 41-180; SCA — Michael Ashwill 10-97, Rosenthal 13-41, Teigen 2-7, Ethan Carlson 1-3, Dylan Mehr 1-2, Anthony Vega 2-(-3), Alvord 8-(-3); Totals: 37-139.

Passing: R — Virchow 12-26-1 117, Hansen 0-1-0 0; Totals: 12-27-1 117; SCA –Alvord 8-18-0 98.

Receiving: R — Mason Ruegemer 5-36, Ryan Dockendorf 1-33, Kunkel 2-19, Brad Fabel 1-11, Sam Mackedanz 1-10, Alex Budde 1-8, McCarney 1-0; Totals: 12-117; SCA — Teigen 3-60, Jeremy Koffi 3-18, Jackson Pelzer 1-13, Cooper Lynch 1-7; Totals: 8-98.

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