Enterprise (5-5) will battle in the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and the initial game features a familiar foe in Class 7A’s No. 1-ranked McGill-Toolen (10-0).
The Yellow Jackets have been a thorn in the side of Enterprise for a few years, defeating the Wildcats in the playoffs in 2012, 2015 and 2016. This year, McGill-Toolen is a juggernaut posting eye-popping numbers against the opposition. In ten games, the Yellow Jackets have outscored opponents 340-84. Over that same span, they have pitched two shutouts and allowed double-digit scoring in just four games.
Enterprise, on the other hand, is a team transformed.
After starting 2-5, the Wildcats have won three straight games. Last week, they completed a dramatic second half comeback to stun then No.7 ranked Theodore on the road. Theodore entered the game with just one loss — to McGill-Toolen, first in the region to Theodore’s second.
“A lot of people thought that’s not a game that really matters,” said Enterprise head coach Rick Darlington. “I had a few say, ‘Well, what are you going to do, rest your starters?’ We’re going to go play the game to win, because if they’re number two in that region and we know we play number one in the region this week (with McGill), we’re going to know where we are as far as being able to compete. Getting into the playoffs is a great goal, but you want to be able to win and compete in playoff games.”
After trailing 21-0 at halftime, Enterprise eventually won 28-27 with three touchdowns coming in the span of 3:50 in the fourth quarter. Enterprise’s defense, after allowing 200 yards in the opening quarter, settled in and allowed 91 yards the rest of the way.
Darlington said it was huge for the confidence of the team.
“It was a great win for the guys as far as their confidence and believing in themselves and the team,” he said. “I’ve been coaching 31 years now, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder of kids over a three-game stretch.”
Darlington said McGill is “a very good team” that presents a challenge to the Wildcats, but it’s more of the same for Enterprise.
“Every team we play is like that,” he said. “This region — they’re all really good teams and they’re all very well coached. The schedule is just absolutely brutal, but it’s really good for getting us ready for the playoffs.”
Enterprise will need major contributions on both sides of the ball to pull off two wins in two weeks against top 10 opponents. Darlington said the team has practiced well.
“It seems like we’ve finally hit a rhythm,” he said.
Gates at McGill-Toolen’s Lipscomb Athletic Complex open at 5:30 p.m.