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AZPreps365 Cornerby AIA365.com Staff
Preview - Apollo vs. PeoriaAug 24, 2012
The Apollo Hawks are set to host the Peoria Panthers tonight in the first game of the season. The teams faced off in the first game last season and Apollo defeated Peoria 24-13. While the Hawks head into this season coming off an 8-3 finish and a first round loss in the Division II playoffs to Ironwood Ridge (43-20), head coach Zack Threadgill said the team will look to the returning players to provide leadership early on in the season.
As the first game approached, Threadgill said his team has been focused on execution and alignment. “We are trying to eliminate mistakes and focused on being the best team we can be.”
He said keys to the game against Peoria will be to protect the football. He said the Hawks must be efficient on 3rd down both offensively and defensively, as well as be great in special teams and eliminate penalties.
The Panthers return this season under a new head coach, Will Babb. Babb is no stranger to the tradition of Peoria football, having claimed two state titles in 1986 and 1987. Most recently he served as the quarterbacks and wide receiver coach for Peoria for the past two years. Prior to his return to Peoria, he was the head coach at Sunrise Mountain from 2003-2009.
Babb said at the start of the season the Panthers have focused on improving since their first scrimmage. He said keys to the game will be turnovers and the team that can execute their game plan the best.
“First games are not always about X’s and O’s. It is about execution,” he said.
Babb understands the importance of leadership and said the team will go as far as the seniors take them.
“This is a good group and they desire to take their spot next to the great Peoria teams,” he said.
The Panthers finished 7-4 last season and lost in the first round of the Division III playoffs to Arcadia (21-7).
By Jennifer Jimenez