APOLLO — The Apollo-Ridge Vikings put together a pretty impressive offense last season, passing for more than 140 yards a game in an offense that averaged 300 yards.
And all the key players are back.
The electric Tre Tipton and fellow junior Alex Smith return as the Vikings’ leading receivers, both weapons that helped senior quarterback Jesse Zelonka finish second in the area in passing yardage at 1,457.
Now, they’re that much more familiar with one another.
“Relationship-wise off the field, on the field, it’s great,” Zelonka said. “On the field we don’t even have to speak. It’s eye contact. We do signals, wink at each other, whatever. We know what’s up.”
“We’ve all been working,” Smith said. “We stay after practice and get some more throws in, do all our routes. We know where we’re going to be and when we’re going to be there.”
Tipton led the area in receptions last year with 39 catches for 786 yards. Smith wasn’t too far behind with 23 catches for 534 yards. Zelonka finished a cool 80 of 169 passing for 1,457 yards. He threw 19 touchdown passes, and Tipton caught 11.
“(Tipton) had three receptions the other day (in a scrimmage against) Valley,” coach John Skiba said. “They were probably 60-plus yards, and they were just on flare routes. Just get him the ball and let him work in space.”
“Jesse and I, we seem to have a really good package,” Tipton said, “but this year you’ve got to watch out for everybody, because it’s not just me. It’s not just Jesse. It’s not just Alex. It’s everybody.
“We have so much going for us. We’ve got this kid right here (Zelonka), he’s pushing himself. Alex is pushing himself. So it should be really interesting.”
Smith’s numbers make it seem as though he was a feature player, but he flew relatively under the radar. With the concentration Tipton is sure to draw as his reputation grows, that’s just more and more opportunity for Smith.
“Tre gets a lot of attention and leaves Alex by himself, and Alex is a skilled athlete, and Jesse does a great job getting him the ball,” Skiba said. “It’s a luxury to have both of those (receivers) here, and they play off each other. It’s hard to stop.”
“Our offense is all spread out,” Zelonka said. “We can get all the athletes on the field at once. We have our new freshman, Duane Brown, coming up. He’s going to be an outstanding receiver, as well as Tre, Alex, Dillon Tones, everybody.”