The state's football title games take place this weekend, and to get you excited for the slate of games, we spent some time talking to Silver Creek senior quarterback Austin Apodaca, whose team will play in the Class 3A title game on Friday against Windsor.
Apodaca, as you might know, is coming off one of the most impressive playoff performances in state history. He tied a state record with seven touchdown passes and threw for 446 yards last week against Palisade, leading his squad to a 55-37 victory. He threw only six incompletions in 38 pass attempts. That's doing some work.
So what's next for the Washington State recruit? Read on...
ESPNHS: Let's get this out of the way first. After 446 yards and seven touchdowns, is your arm tired?
Apodaca: (Laughs.) It wasn't too bad. I got to throw it around quite a bit, and that's always nice.
ESPNHS: You're a pass-first quarterback, but in the quarterfinals you really got it done on the ground. And then this week you passed for a ton of yards. What was the difference in those two games?
Apodaca: In our quarterfinal game, we had 30 to 45-mile-per-hour winds right up until game time. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to throw the ball at all. We did; we ended up throwing the ball 12 times or so. But at the same time, we took what they gave us. And then this week was a little different. Palisade put eight in the box the whole game, and we took what they gave us.
ESPNHS: How do you throw a pass into a 45-mile-per-hour wind?
Apodaca: Oh it's different, for sure. You know the ball is going to be wobbling a little. It's tough for you to be on the same page with your receivers. We just took as much as we could with some quick completions, some playaction and some short passes and then we just ran the ball.
ESPNHS: And then you tied a state record in touchdown passes one week later.
Apodaca: Our offense was all on the same page. We were just clicking. I give all my credit to the offensive line for giving me all the protection. My receivers were running great routes — it was a good day. But credit really goes to my teammates for being there while I threw the rock.
ESPNHS: At what point in the semifinal game did you know it was going to be a special day?
Apodaca: During that first drive. We started clicking early. Our first pass was a rollout for a 15-yard gain. I hit the receiver in stride. He ran an absolutely perfect route, and everything was on point for the rest of the drive. From that point on I knew if we kept on with what we were doing, it would be a good day.
ESPNHS: What did your coach — and dad, Mike Apodaca — say to you after the game?
Apodaca: He congratulated me, but I don't think either of us really knew what had happened. I didn't even know I had thrown seven touchdowns until one of the interviewers told me after the game, and I was surprised.
ESPNHS: Is it fun, rewarding, frustrating at times, or a combination of all three having your dad as your coach?
Apodaca: We've gotten pretty good at separating it all out. We talk X's and O's quite a bit, but over the last couple of years we've gotten pretty good at separating the two. He's a dad at home and a coach on the field.
ESPNHS: What's the reaction been like from the big game?
Apodaca: It's been a nice week so far. I've gotten so many congratulations. It's been a really exciting week. The whole school is buzzing because we're going to state for the first time in school history. I've heard from alumni, coaches, and I even heard from Washington State coaches as well.
ESPNHS: Are you nervous at all about this weekend?
Apodaca: It is a little nerve-wracking, but this senior class has been playing together since sixth grade. We've got such great team chemistry and there are a lot of leaders on this team. So it's been pretty relaxed. We're pretty confident, we know what to do and we know how to get it done.
Christopher Parish is an associate editor with ESPNHS magazine. You can reach him on Twitter @CParishESPNHS.