Skaalerud named new SC Apollo grid coach
ST. CLOUD -- Justin Skaalerud, a 2000 graduate of Willmar High School, was named the new head football coach at St. Cloud Apollo last Friday. This will be Skaal-erud's first head coaching job. The St. Cloud State graduate has been the de-fensive ...
ST. CLOUD -- Justin Skaalerud, a 2000 graduate of Willmar High School, was named the new head football coach at St. Cloud Apollo last Friday.
This will be Skaal-erud's first head coaching job. The St. Cloud State graduate has been the de-fensive line coach at St. Cloud Tech the past two seasons and was the freshman coach there for two seasons before that. He was also an assistant basketball coach at St. Cloud Tech the past three seasons.
"I'm really excited," said Skaalerud, who was an outside line-backer/tight end in his playing days for Willmar. "I'm currently assembling my coaching staff."
He named Jonathan Larson his offensive coordinator. Larson coached with Skaalerud at St. Cloud Tech last year, serving as the Tigers' offensive line coach.
Skaalerud, who teaches social studies at North Junior High and also at St. Cloud Apollo High School, enters a struggling program.
Previous coach Jon Benson, an Atwater native, resigned after going 0-9 last season and 9-44 in his six seasons as head coach.
Skaalerud said teaching junior high and high school in two different buildings gives him a chance to interact with current and future football players.
"Next year we will go to a middle school so I'll have sixth, seventh and eighth graders at one school and nine through twelve at the high school," he said. "It will be an opportunity for me to bring some excitement to the younger levels."
Apollo had around 25 players out for football on the freshmen team last season.
"That's way too low," said Skaalerud. "We're the fourth biggest four-A school. We should have 40 or 50. My coaches and I will try to get those numbers up by generating some enthusiasm about football."
Skaalerud said he is wiping the slate clean and not worrying about what the team did in the past.
"What's done is done," he remarked. "We can't control what's in the past. We can only look ahead with optimism and excitement."
Apollo did not have a true quarterback on the varsity last season; instead running a Wildcat-type offense in which a running back takes the snap and generally runs out of shotgun formation.
"I was asked what we will do without a quarterback this year," Skaalerud said. "It's my job to work with the kids and get them involved in passing camps and things like that. We'll also try to start developing them at a younger age."
Skaalerud was one of 40 applicants for the job and one of six that was granted an interview.
He and his wife, Amy, live in St. Cloud with their 4-month-old son, Tanner.
"Tanner had long fingers when he was born and my wife's mother said he had piano fingers," laughed Skaalerud. "I told her those aren't piano fingers. I said they are quarterback fingers."