The Enterprise Wildcats (0-0) and North Miami Beach Chargers (0-0) will meet for the very first time this Friday as the Rick Darlington Era of EHS football kicks off.

While this is the first time Enterprise has played a team from the State of Florida since 2005, it’s the 51st time overall.

The game with North Miami Beach came about after Dothan and Northview merged following last season, leaving a hole in the EHS schedule. Darlington is no stranger to North Miami Beach, however, as his Apopka teams faced North Miami Beach twice in his tenure there.

North Miami Beach - led by longtime head coach Jeff Bertani – is coming off of a disappointing 4-6 season in 2018 and comes into 2019 having lost their leading receiver and quarterback from the previous year.

The Chargers return, however, their top two running backs in senior Keyon Pierre (402 yards in 2018) and junior David Alize (489 yards) along with senior receiver/defensive back Stephan Meus (30 catches, 317 yards, five touchdowns).

North Miami Beach’s defense also returns its top three tacklers: D’Mor Jean-Baptiste, Lamah Jackson and Amauri Floyd. Jean-Baptiste is a 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound safety that holds scholarship offers from Southern Miss and Syracuse currently.

While Enterprise has managed to avoid the injury bug for much of fall camp, that came to an end last week when outside linebacker Tanner Rogers suffered a serious leg injury that will likely end his junior campaign before the season even begins.

“I hate it for any kid (to be injured like that) but here’s a kid that’s a versatile kid that could help us in multiple positions and is a totally ‘all in’ type of guy,” Darlington said of Rogers. “He loves the way we do things here and if you want to see an ‘Enterprise guy,’ Tanner Rogers is a great representative of that. Losing him like that after all the work he’s put in breaks my heart for the kid.”

The Wildcats will come into the season opener with a size advantage over the Chargers but North Miami Beach comes in with a solid speed advantage.

“They’re very fast,” Darlington flatly said. “We’re not going to be able to outrun them, so we have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.”

If the Enterprise offensive line is able to win that battle, it will give more running room to a group of runners that includes Elite 11 tailback Josh McCray, Elite 11 fullback/quarterback Jackson Darlington, freshman Mykel Johnson and junior Jalen Cunningham. While the Enterprise defense will try to slow down North Miami Beach’s fast-paced “spread offense,” the best defense for Enterprise could be simply an effective offense of its own that keeps the Chargers offense off the field.

“Offensively I think we have some solid weapons there,” Darlington said. “Defensively, we just have to keep improving and play physical.”

Enterprise will host North Miami Beach on Friday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. in Wildcat Stadium.

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