While the Enterprise Wildcats (2-5, 1-3) have once again struggled this season, they travel to Montgomery this Friday, Oct. 18, to face the R.E. Lee Generals (6-2, 3-2) with a spot in the playoffs still within grasp.
After Lee started off the season 6-0, the Generals have dropped back-to-back region games to Prattville and Central in the past two weeks bringing their region record to 3-2 and within sight of the Wildcats.
If Enterprise can upset Lee on the road and then defeat Jeff Davis next week at home, Enterprise will be tied with Lee at 3-3 for the fourth spot in Region 3, and in that scenario would also hold the tiebreaker over the Generals with a head-to-head win.
“It’s been frustrating (this year) but if we win these next two that will be great for the program and a big turnaround for us this year,” Enterprise coach Rick Darlington said.
There are also other scenarios that could throw a monkey wrench in the playoff hopes of the Wildcats as both Prattville and Auburn are sitting at 3-1 in region play as well. Prattville and Auburn still have to play one another – this week – and both also will have one other region game after this week. If either one of those teams loses both of their games then there would be a three-way tie for the fourth spot between Enterprise, Lee and Auburn and a number of other tiebreakers will come into play, which could get confusing.
The Wildcats are coming off of a week in which some banged up players could get an extra week to get healthy.
“It was good,” Darlington said of the bye week. “We got a few days off and also worked on some fundamental stuff. Sometimes it’s good to have (a bye week) late and sometimes it’s good to have in front of a crucial opponent, which Lee is that for us. So, I definitely don’t think it came at a bad time.”
Enterprise has been without Elite 11 running back Josh McCray since the Smiths Station game and fellow running back Mykel Johnson has been hobbled since the Prattville game the following week.
“Josh looked better towards the end of the week last week,” Darlington said. “We don’t really know right yet (about McCray or Johnson). We’ll just have to see.”
Both Johnson and McCray will be huge returns if they are able to suit up against Lee this week, but whether they play or not, sophomore Quentin Hayes has emerged in the past two weeks as a big playmaker for the Enterprise offense, as well. Hayes rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time in his career against Central two weeks ago.
“He’s going to be a great player for us, no doubt,” Darlington said of Hayes. “He’s going to be a big time player for us in the future and I think he’ll just continue to have more and more success for us this season as the weeks roll on.
“He’s also as good a person as he is a player, which is really fun. When your best players are also the best people on your team, that’s when coaching is really fun.”
Darlington is fully aware of Lee’s athleticism and ability, especially on offense.
“They’ll do what they do,” Darlington said. “They made it to the state semifinals last year and I know they’ll come out there to battle. They’re certainly talented, no doubt.”
Darlington said that getting off the field on defense on crucial downs and moving the ball on offense will be big for the Wildcats.
“We have to play better defense, that’s been the big thing for us all year,” Darlington said. “We can’t seem to get off the field on third and fourth down. Offensivley, we have to move the chains, score points and don’t turn the ball over.
“We have to get better on defense but we also have to get better on offense, too.”