Apopka Football Is Back!

Football State Runner-Ups – The Blue and White
The 2021 8A State Runner-Up Apopka Football team

The 2022 football season is finally underway! The Apopka football team is coming off a successful 2021 season, which saw it carry an 8-2 regular season record and a deep playoff run that led to the Blue Darters finishing as runners-up in Class 8A, for an overall 12-3 record. With the current team, they had a spring victory over the Lake Gibson Braves 21-7.

During the offseason, FHSAA created a new class, keeping Apopka in the highest division, albeit now called 4M. Apopka’s new district now consists of Evans, Lake Brantley, Lake Mary, and Seminole, with the latter three making the playoffs last season. This and the tough schedule for Apopka this season may make getting to the playoffs slightly more difficult this season.

The 2022 season was intended to start off with the annual preseason Kickoff Classic game against the Osceola Kowboys. However, due to lightning, this highly anticipated matchup was canceled and won’t be rescheduled as it was a preseason game.

Apopka’s Zeldrick Roberts running the football, Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel
The AHS Student Section at the opener vs Ocoee

The focus was then shifted to the first regular season matchup against the Ocoee Knights. Winning in blowout fashion last year, expectations were high for this matchup. The Darters set off against the Knights on a rainy night matchup at Roger Williams Field.

The first half started off slow, with both teams struggling to make any offensive progress in the slippery conditions. The closest chance to score was when the Ocoee punter fumbled the ball in the end zone, however, the play was called back for roughing the punter. Apopka went into the locker room at halftime with a score of 0-0.

The Knights started off the second half with a kick return for a touchdown. They followed it up with a rushing touchdown later in the third quarter, failing to convert both PATs, meaning that Apopka was down 12-0 going into the fourth quarter. A rushing TD from quarterback Kaleb Hicks the following PAT saw Apopka close the gap to 12-7. After a defensive stop, Apopka had the ball again. With about 5 minutes remaining in the game, Hicks ran it in again, to give Apopka a 13-12 lead in the game. After a failed 2-point conversion, Apopka was able to hold Ocoee on defense and run out the clock, giving Apopka its first victory of the season.

Head Coach Jeff Rolson pictured during the game vs Ocoee, Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

The Blue and White were able to interview Head Coach Jeff Rolson after the game: The first half didn’t look very good, the score was 0-0, what could the team have improved upon? “We could improve everywhere, you know? We just gotta get better up front, we gotta be able to complete some passes, and defensively, we gave up a couple of deep balls. In the kicking game, we had a punt blocked, a kick returned against us, muffed a punt, and we had a lot of things that we did poorly. But we played Apopka football down the stretch and found a way to win.”

The Darters then traveled to West Orange for its second matchup of the season.

The Darters started with a 13-0 deficit in the first half from 2 rushing touchdowns from West Orange’s QB. After a weather delay, a third-quarter touchdown by Apopka WR Isaac Knight put Apopka back into contention with a scoreline of 13-6. However, Apopka was unable to score later in the game and suffered its first defeat of the season to the Warriors.

The Darters will look to shake off this loss as they prepare for their next matchup against Dr. Phillips. Looking further beyond, the team will look to improve upon their mistakes to make a playoff run.

The full schedule is below, graphic courtesy of Mel Bolden (MBdesigns)