Enterprise senior Jalen Cunningham works on a speed drill during practice.

In Class 7A football speed is a necessity of life and the Enterprise Wildcats have been utilizing speed training and sprinting to make sure the 2020 Wildcats can keep up.

Enterprise head coach Rick Darltington said that when he arrived at EHS he knew that speed was something his team was going to have to work at.

“There is no bigger tangible in football than speed,” Darlington said. “From December until now that’s been the best thing we’ve had going in the offseason is getting faster.”

Enterprise’s track and field coach Brad Fortney is also the inside linebacker coach for the football team and as of June 11 he is the performance and wellness coach for the entire school system.

The Wildcats are focusing on sprinting, rather than running, in their drills and Fortney found the best way to do that.

“When you’re switching from running to sprinting the best way to do that is just to time someone,” Fortney said. “I can tell you to go touch the line and come back and most of the time you’re going to run but if I put you on the clock you’re going to sprint.”

Fortney said that EHS athletes were used to simply running during workouts but to get faster they would need to sprint. Improving speed requires the improvement of technique, which EHS coaches have focused on, but Fortney said the mental side of things is bigger than anything.

“We’re working on some technique stuff but we time our guys once a week for their top speed and see where the kids are at and we give them instant feedback,” Fortney said. “I can tell a kid that we’ve been working with that he’s running 20 miles-per-hour and he’ll tell me, ‘Coach, I feel faster than that’ and the next time they go out they may run 20.8 miles-per-hour and they can see that improvement.”

Fortney said that the Wildcats also don’t simply run in a straight line and instead use cones and hoops for the players to maneuver around while sprinting to get them more football ready.

EHS first purchased speed-timing equipment in December and Fortney said that just one Wildcat topped 20 miles-per-hour. Now, 48 Wildcats have topped 20 miles-per-hour.

Enterprise’s area is known for teams with speed, so Fortney said this level of improvement isn’t just great but it’s necessary.

“It’s huge for us,” Fortney emphasized. “We can sit here and be like ‘we’re not as fast as them’ but speed is something that you can grow.

“It’s teachable and as long as we prioritize that you’ll see the gains. And it’s not just football. Basketball is doing it, baseball is doing it, you name a sport in Enterprise and I can pull numbers for you, which is cool.”

Fortney said that when players sit idle one of the first things to go is speed, so when schools closed earlier this year that was EHS coaches biggest concern.

“We put together workouts and I was texting guys all the time saying if you do anything make sure you do speed work,” Fortney said. “When we came back 90 percent of our guys either maintained where they were or improved. That was huge.”

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