New Enterprise football coach Rick Darlington held a meet and greet at Enterprise High School on Thursday, Jan. 10, to introduce his new staff, which features a number of familiar faces.
Before introducing his staff, Darlington addressed the members of the Enterprise community in attendance.
“When I first came down here it seemed like Enterprise would be a good fit for me because you care about football here but you also seem to care about football played by really good young men and that means a lot to me,” Darlington said. “When we first started working with the players they did every thing we asked of them. They’ve been awesome and very much want to do the work. Sometimes when you take over a program there is some resistance and maybe players feeling abandoned with a new coach coming in, but these guys have been receptive and have really been awesome.”
Darlington said his goal is to win sooner rather than later.
“People ask me if it’s a rebuilding situation here,” Darlington said. “I asked the seniors if they would like me to come in and have a three year plan and they all looked like I had three heads, because they want to win now.
“We’re going to go in and try to win games now. There is going to be a sign going up in the locker room next week that says, ‘Those that expect to win have already begun to conquer,’ and I believe that.”
Joining Darlington on the staff is new defensive coordinator Jed Kennedy and new defensive backs coach Marcus McCarty. McCarty will also serve as strength and conditioning coach.
“Right now our focus is on the weight room and getting know the kids,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to be a process but we’ve already seen signs of improvement each day.
“When coach came up here and started meeting with the staff he told me I was really going to like them. There are a lot of really good coaches and they’re good people and want to do good for the kids.”
McCarty is actually an Alabama native and feels like he’s home again.
“Words can’t describe how excited I am to get started,” McCarty said. “I’m from Alabama originally – born and raised – so the opportunity to come back home sold itself.”
McCarty is coming from Wekiva High School, which runs a defensive scheme very similar to that of Kennedy’s and that’s for good reason. Wekiva’s head coach once worked for Kennedy as his defensive coordinator.
The crossover for McCarty doesn’t stop there either as Enterprise outside linebackers coach Zach Holmes was once the head coach at Sumiton Christian School where McCarty’s mother teaches.
“Zach Holmes was the head coach there at one point, so he knew my mom and dad and I didn’t even know the guy,” McCarty joked.
On the offensive side of the ball, former Enterprise receivers coach Shane Corley will now be serving as offensive coordinator, while fellow receivers coach Justin Jones will coach wide receivers and wingbacks. Corley will also coach tailbacks and fullbacks.
“I’m ready to get things started,” Corley said. “Coach Darlington has a bunch of ideas and I’m ready to get started and it’s really exciting.
“It’s a new title and new responsibilities for me and the offense will be 100-percent different. I’ve been fortunate to be here for nine years and now getting to see football from a different mind and different mindset again is exciting.”
Bradley Bowers, who coached tight ends and hammerbacks, will continue to coach hammerbacks, which are also known as blocking backs in the “single wing” offense that Darlington is bringing to Enterprise.
The newest member of the staff on offense is also a familiar face. Jackson Hanson served as a coaching intern on the varsity team last year, and was also the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator on the freshman team. In 2019, Hanson will serve as offensive line coach for the varsity team.
“I loved every second of it,” Hanson said of learning the ropes in 2018 as an intern. “I’m an Enterprise guy, my dad coached here, and ever since I was five years old I’ve been telling him that I was going to be coaching the offensive line here.”
Hanson said that recently he found an old note that he had written in a backpack when he was younger saying he would one day be an offensive line coach like his father.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is coach the offensive line here,” the younger Hanson said. “I was thinking I might get a shot in the next 3-5 years and I didn’t really expect it to come so soon, but I always just put everything in God’s hand and I’m happy to get this opportunity.”
Hanson said that while the single wing is new to him and the rest of the staff, Darlington is getting them familiar with it and Hanson couldn’t wait to get started with the players.
“I could start right now I’m so pumped up,” an excited Hanson said. “Coach (Bradley) Bowers said the first day in the weight room that it was like Christmas Eve, but every day feels like that to me. I can’t wait to get up every day and get to work.”
Joining Kennedy and McCarty on the defensive side of the ball will be Bradley Clay coaching inside linebackers and Holmes coaching outside linebackers, while Jonathan Hawkins remains as defensive line coach.
“We’ve been working with the kids for about four days now (in the weight room) and I think every day we’re getting better and stronger,” Darlington said.
Darlington said that the team would likely wait until the end of basketball season to begin installing the offense with the players.
He also said that the decision to keep much of the staff of former coach David Faulkner wasn’t a very difficult one after seeing them in action and getting to know them.
“They’re just a bunch of really good, young coaches,” Darlington said of his staff. “There’s some really good, young and energetic coaches that want to win and work hard. They certainly know how to work, which has been great.
“A lot of times when you take over a job you don’t get coaches like this. You get guys that are lazy or don’t know much but these guys really are great. I’m really excited about the staff.”
Preston Hatcher will serve as head coach on the freshman team, while Matt Pipkins will coach the freshmen defensive line, Lee Meitzler will serve as defensive coordinator for the freshmen team and Brett Birdsong will coach defensive backs and receivers on the freshmen team.