You shoulda been here Sept. 16, 1966, when the Enterprise High School Wildcats welcomed Central High’s Red Devils to R.L. Bates Memorial Stadium.
Enterprise senior quarterback Larry Cocks and his two backfield mates, the late Johnny Ray Cobb and Tommy Weigand, ran amok, leading Enterprise to a 53-7 win the second week of a 9-1 season.
EHS students enjoyed that win a solid year, especially because Enterprise coach Paul Terry had to look beyond the Wiregrass Area to get a 10-game schedule.
Enterprise was growing faster than most surrounding towns.
Even before he took the reins in 1962, coach Terry had been on Morris Higginbotham’s EHS staff as the Cats faced Valley High, 1960-61.
Dothan’s Tigers returned to Enterprise’s schedule in 1961, after being off of it since 1945, and were the Cats’ arch-rival through 2018.
In 2019, Dothan High merged with Northview, becoming the Dothan High Wolves that made their debut in Wildcat Stadium last week.
In addition to Dothan, coach Terry’s first EHS team also played Sylacauga and Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach) and won both games, 26-0, 30-0, respectively.
In ’63, Montgomery’s Sidney Lanier Poets hosted the Cats in Cramton Bowl and won, 14-6.
Panama City’s Rutherford High joined our schedule in 1965; we won, 32-6, at the Rams corral and they came here the following season and the Cats won again, 34-14, a month after the inaugural Phenix City game.
Those of us in the EHS class of ’68 rode football and band buses to Phenix City Sept. 15, 1967, anticipating another victory, but Central evened the series with a 19-7 win.
The Cats claimed four wins in the next five Central games through 1972; the ’70 game ended, 6-6.
Enterprise’s population had taken off after the ’68 Vietnamese Tet Offensive and kept growing.
By 1980, the only Wiregrass teams EHS faced were Carroll, Dothan and the upstart Northview Cougars (est. 1978).
Here we are in 2019, and all three of those teams don’t appear on this year’s slate; Enterprise has grown to be Alabama’s fifth-largest school for the rest of current classifications.
The Dothan-Northview merger may make New Dothan High Alabama’s third largest public high school for the 1920-21 classification period.
As EHS grew, the Cats won state championships, ’79 and ’82, faced teams from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and many of the biggest Alabama schools, played in Legion Field, Ladd-Peebles and Bryant-Denny stadiums and at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
The No. 3 Central Devils, totally unimpressed by the above, won their first state championship in ’93 and come here today as defending 7A State Champions looking to add to their 20-10-1 series lead against Enterprise.
Central, currently the 20th largest school for scheduling purposes, has won 16 of the last 20 games against Enterprise, fielding teams featuring major-college prospects led by outstanding coaches, who once explained they read your scribe’s game-day columns online and use them for motivation when the Cats and Red Devils play.
Yep, that’s what they explained one February Saturday morning inside Phenix City’s 13th Avenue Barbecue.
It’s likely they may be reading these words right now.
Soooo, to all of you Central guys headed here today, please be careful!
Oh, and if you can, bring the EHS broadcast team four Slab Sandwiches with slaw on the side.