Enterprise head coach Rick Darlington spoke at the season’s first Quarterback Club meeting Friday about community and his goals.
A self-described “outsider” who comes to Enterprise after a successful stint at Florida’s Apopka High School, Darlington said he is unaccustomed to the level of support he has received.
Regarding the team, Darlington wants to develop players on the field and in life.
“I’ll never make excuses,” he said. “We have a school of 2,000 kids. We’ve got about 150 young men playing football between ninth grade, junior varsity and varsity. We’ve got to develop players. That’s the thing. I could sit here and list things we don’t have, but there’s no reason to do that because we’ve got a great coaching staff, a great weight room, a track program coming in, wrestling -- everything we need to develop players, (and those players) have been a blessing.”
After learning he would be hired, Darlington visited with legendary coach Bill Bacon who posted 211 wins and state championships in 1979 and 1982 with Enterprise.
“I asked him, ‘Why is the team not winning now?’” Darlington said. “‘How did you win championships?’ I wanted to know from someone who had done it here. Not somewhere else, but here. He gave me some great insight on discipline, on toughness, on conditioning. (We want to) put teams on the field that kind of emulate his style of play; ball control and playing great defense.”
Emphasis on ball control is a key part of Darlington’s unique style of single-wing offense.
“It’s kind of old-fashioned,” he said. “It’s a different kind of football in the physicality of it. I believe that being physical in this region is really our only chance. We’re going to run something really different. If you haven’t seen us play, you might be out there kind of going ‘What the heck are they doing?’ If it wins, hopefully people will say, ‘Well, they must have a plan to it.’”
Darlington mentioned his personal goals for players on the squad.
“The thing we’re trying to do with these young men and this program is basically teach them how to be men,” he said. “I’m sure that our values are the same ones that you’re going to have. We want them to be humble, show honor, care for other people, be selfless, believe and have faith.”
He also reflected on injuries and their impact. Sophomore Quentin Hayes will be out four weeks with a broken thumb, while Tanner Rogers will likely be out for the season after breaking his leg in practice a week and a half ago.
“If you could draw a picture of what we want in a player in this school, it would be him,” Darlington said of Rogers. “He’s tough and his all in. He’s disciplined. He’s a good student and a good person. For him to be out for the year, it breaks your heart.
“Tanner’s over there on the ground (after being injured) and you go over there and, as a coach, when you sense it’s a serious injury, what do you say? All I can do is say, ‘Hey,can I pray for you?’” The thing about that is -- and that’s another thing about Alabama -- it’s really nice to be able to tell a young man you’re going to pray for him and do so. It’s nice to have prayer at football games.”
Darlington mentioned senior Larry Magwood -- described as “strong, fast, tough” -- sustaining an injury that appeared to be a torn ACL.
“He’s over there on the cooler and I walk up to him and he’s got tears in his eyes,” Darlington said. “I say, ‘Larry, can I pray with you?’ He just grabbed me. Hugged me by the waist. I really wanted God to do something special, because Tanner gets to come back next year but then you have a guy like Larry who is a senior trying to go to college, trying to do great things with this team.”
Darlington said Magwood visited the doctor and was told he did not tear his ACL, but his LCL, which would see him missing at least 10 weeks. On the way to Quarterback Club, Darlington said he received a call from athletic trainer Tate Fowler.
“He was telling me the doctor misread something and it’s just a sprain and (Larry) could be back in two to three weeks,” Darlington said. “I just want to say thank you to God for that. It’s great for our team, great for (Larry), but also great for those young men to see that God answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is no, but a lot of times it’s yes.”