Chances of sneaking up on McGill-Toolen Catholic High School’s Yellow Jackets in Mobile tonight vanished in Theodore Nov. 1, as Enterprise High School’s Wildcats (5-5) overcame Theodore’s 21-0 halftime lead on the rice paddy masquerading as a gridiron to win, 28-27.
Enterprise fans missing Friday’s slippin’ and a’slidin’, peepin’ and a’hidin’ frolic in C.A. Douglas Stadium missed possibly the greatest EHS comeback Rick Howard, Fox Fleming, Rex Bynum and your scribe have broadcast.
After eating at Bayley’s Restaurant, we began our third visit to the alleged 7A stadium, where Rex was accosted by a gate-guarding tub-thumper demanding proof Rex was an Enterprise broadcaster.
Un-frisked, Rex eventually got in OK.
Fox and Rick were almost done setting up our equipment, exactly where Fox was told, via phone conversations with one Theodore official, when another Theo demanded we move.
It was Senior Night in the bowels of Alabama and there were more folks on the glorified peat bog for the pre-game slog-out than sat in the stands; introductions of senior players, bandsters, cheerleaders, three decked-out Antebellum debutantes and their mammers’n’em ran long.
The game began 16 minutes late; no delay of game penalty on Theo was considered, far as our eight eyes saw.
Well before opening kickoff, one of four light poles in the, at-best, ghoulish, semi-dark stadium, possibly an egress to the Black Hole of Calcutta, quit working.
Those lights intermittently burned dimly Friday; sadly, we’d left our night vision goggles at home.
At halftime, after the Big Blue Marching Band’s stellar performance, Theodore’s band, three tubas tubing, backed one majorette twirling an artificially-lighted baton.
Suddenly, memories from Greenville, circa 1960, when the Tigers’ featured twirler showed out with a fire baton after stadium lights were doused, came to mind.
Some 22 minutes after that fiery performance, Greenville’s lights relighted.
Yep: Theodore’s twirl-queen was handed a blazing baton as the other home-side lights darkened, leaving only visitor’s side bulbs a’smolderin’.
When the football Bobcats slinked onto the field for second-half warm-ups, they limbered in a ghostly, shadowy atmosphere where a butt-nekkid woman astride a jobless circus elephant might’ve sauntered among them unnoticed.
Miraculously, the first pole of failed lights re-lit to start the second half; somehow, all four sets sorta beamed down the stretch.
Enterprise scored quickly, in two plays, on a Josh McCray 3-yard run to open the third quarter; 21-7.
Then, with EHS defenders taking names and knocking heads, coupled with Theodore’s third-period decision to replace its starting quarterback, the Wildcats, after falling behind, 27-7, blocked the PAT following Theodore’s last touchdown, that opened the fourth quarter, roared back.
And then some as the game progressed.
In the game’s last six minutes, there were three turnovers.
Two interceptions and a fumble recovered on a pooched kickoff led to three short EHS touchdown drives that, coupled with three of Hunter Perry four PAT’s, put the Cats ahead with 2:04 to play, 28-27.
The first interception happened when Enterprise faced fourth-and-14 at Theodore’s 43-yard line and threw a deep ball Theodore, fortunately for the Cats, intercepted at its 10-yard line.
EHS defenders forced a punt, from the Theodore 1-yard line, and the Cats went on offense at the home 19, overcame a holding penalty and scored on a 25-yard pass from Jackson Darlington to Jared Smith with 5:54 to play, 27-14.
The Cats recovered a well-placed pooch kick at Theodore’s 18 and used three plays to score, on a 2-yard McCray TD with 5:24 to play, 27-21.
On Theodore’s third play after the EHS kickoff, L. Z. Reynolds intercepted a pass and gave EHS the ball back, this time at the home team’s 26-yard line.
Five plays later, Mykail Johnson scored the game’s final touchdown, putting Enterprise ahead with 2:04 on the clock, 28-27.
Incredibly, Theodore would get two possessions before game’s end and, from our al fresco, midfield vantage point, appeared to have reusable timeouts.
Game officials, huddling around referee Rod Serling, mysteriously, silently called two timeouts themselves, perhaps playing “rock, paper, scissors” deciding on toppings for their post-game, call-in order to Pizza’s Is Us.
Enterprise defenders played their best against a formidable opponent as time finally expired in the signature win.
After game’s end, as we began post-game stats, scoring summaries and comments, Theo’s pressbox whiz defiantly and gleefully, unplugged our power cord.
Fox eventually got us back on air via WVVL but not Wildcat Sports Network’s online segment.
Nearby, in Mobile, top-ranked McGill struggled against Fairhope before claiming a 27-20 overtime win.
McGill (10-0), the only undefeated 7A team, hosts Enterprise in its luxurious, wall-to-wall carpeted stadium that requires special tires on John Deere Gators and other ATVs.
McGill, Alabama’s only private, football-playing 7A school, is one of 22 privates that’ve recruited well enough to be among 2019’s 208 playoff teams.
Totally, Alabama seems to have nine 1A football-playing privates, three 2A, nine 3A, four 4A, five 5A, and one each in 6A and 7A.
Of 32 private schools, 22 are still playing.
No way that’s fair to anyone!
Private schools, with recruited players, by competing within the Alabama High School Athletic Association, are absolutely having their cake and eating it, too.
At McGill, the cake is catered.