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As part of a series of interviews that is conducting in 2018 with coaches around the Commonwealth, BGP had a chance to exchange a few emails and go through our interview questions with Coach Phillip Hawkins, new head football coach of the 5A Apollo Eagles.

Tell us a little about your coaching background - which schools you've been at as a head coach or as an assistant before you started at Apollo? Which positions have you had personal experience coaching?

Coach Hawkins: I spent many years coaching Middle School and working as a varsity assistant. I was an assistant at Frankfort High under Craig Foley for several years. I spent a year at Ballard with Mike Jackson. I was the head coach at Doss for 4 years before taking the Apollo job.

BGP: What was it that made you realize you wanted to be a coach? It's obviously not as easy a job to do in this day and age as it may have been in the past. Are there any particular individuals or coaches who pushed you to realize that it's what you wanted to do?

Coach Hawkins: I think my time as a Middle school Head coach gave me the drive to move into high school coaching as a head coach. I also learned a lot from Craig Foley, Tommy Acklin and Shane Smith and the rest of the staff at Frankfort High. They all have been very supportive.

BGP: Are there any games in your coaching career, or even as a player or spectator of a high school game, that you look back at and think, 'Man…now THAT was a memorable game' ?

Coach Hawkins: I think there have been two. The 2016 US Army All American game was amazing game to coach which included three KY kids I had coached prior to their high school careers. Secondly was the Doss vs Fern Creek game in 2017. We were down 20 going into 4th quarter and won in the last seconds to win the district. The Doss player never gave up and played until the last whistle.

BGP: A lot of teams adopt some sort of motto or a mission statement for the program, or even for the individual program year? Does your team have one right now? Do you have a different motto for yourself as a coach?

Coach Hawkins: Our teams motto this year is #win10 .

My personal motto is "Change kids lives, one snap at a time".

BGP: If I were to ask your players - past or present - if there's one thing they hear you say the most, what do you think it would be?

Coach Hawkins: "Academics are King."

BGP: So many players come into a high school program these days with significant experience from pee-wee or middle school programs, and some of them are even walking into the 9th grade already having thoughts about getting college exposure. What is your approach to coaching your team knowing that you may have players walking onto the practice field who may not have any prior football experience at the same time as players who may have 7 or 8 years of football experience and coaching?

Coach Hawkins: Our goal is to coach them all every day to reach their maximum potential. I also understand they all progress at different speeds and usually allow that to happen on their own. I have had the pleasure of watching players with little or no experience become great high school player that were heavily relied on during Friday nights.

BGP: So with your coaching keeping your games in and around Jefferson County for the majority of recent years, there wouldn’t have been a lot of opportunity for you to have been following Apollo’s program on a regular basis. Was there anything in particular that appealed to you about the Eagles’ program when you considered making the move to take over as their coach?

Coach Hawkins: I had some exposure to them watching 5A teams leading into the playoffs. During the interview process, I was able to see the long term potential of the program. The kids are very hard workers and the support in the community is incredible. I was also aware that Owensboro was a great place to live. I know that Apollo has had some challenging years in the past, but the opportunity to turn the program into a consistent winner was very appealing.

BGP: What were the first 2 or 3 steps you decided needed to be taken when you took over the Apollo program?

Coach Hawkins: One of the first things we did was take a good look at each player during Spring football practices, we focused on seeing what the talent level was and began to put the pieces to the puzzle together. Secondly, I wanted to figure out the personality of the team and see which direction to take as far as scheme on both sides of the ball.

BGP: Spring practice is obviously behind you now. Coming out of the dead period here and getting into the nuts and bolts of summer practice in July, what strengths do you see the team having as you get ready to go into your first game of the season?

Coach Hawkins: We are blessed with a lot of lineman and a very mature group returning up front. We also are returning a lot of starters. We are also a very strong team physically because of our strength and conditioning coach and his program. That will allow us to put a lot of different kids on the field and provide some needed depth.

BGP: If you could pare down all of the qualities that you look for in a player, and get down to just one or two top qualities that you like to see the most, what would they be?

Coach Hawkins: Without a doubt, Physicality and Work ethic.

BGP: Is there anything new that the Apollo fans can expect to see on the football field this season? And is there anything familiar you would think the Doss fans might recognize if they came and watched Apollo play in 2018?

Coach Hawkins: I think Apollo fans will be impressed with the amount of speed we can put on the field. I think Doss fans would see familiar offensive and defensive styles. The kids at Doss were very physical and both of these two teams will share this trait.

BGP: Who are some of the players on your team this year that we should expect to see a lot out of?

Coach Hawkins: Seniors - Colby Clark (QB); Mariano McKenzie (RB); Sam Parm (ATH); DC Boone (OT); Gage Hayden (DB); Quentin Miller (LB)

Junior - Geoffery Johnson (ATH)

Sophomores - Parker Bates (OT); Loan Weedman (TE)

BGP: Are there any teams that you would like to look at getting onto Apollo's schedule within the next handful of years?

Coach Hawkins: We have added Lexington Catholic in 2019 and St. Xavier in 2020 in the Bluegrass Bowl to go along with the other new teams in our 6A district.

BGP: What are some of your favorite things to do when you have a little time in the off-season and you're not in football coaching mode?

Coach Hawkins: My wife Julie and I love to fish so we spend a lot of time on a lake somewhere. I also enjoy hunting.

BGP: Which college / NFL teams do you root for the most?

Coach Hawkins: I follow the SEC (Kentucky) and PAC12 (Washington) closely, and enjoy the Eagles and Bengals [in the NFL]. would like to give a big thank you to Coach Hawkins for offering us some of his valuable time to answer our questions!