By: Twumasi Duah-Mensah
In today’s world, a lot of things just don’t make any sense.
But some universal truths are supposed to persist—like Heritage being better than Wake Forest, or Enloe being garbage at football.
One of these remains true. Heritage is indubitably better than Wake Forest. The other? Well, somehow, it changed a bit.
Last season—the first under the leadership of new head coach Ken Blocker—Enloe had its first four-win season since 2009 and had eight all-conference players.
This season, the Enloe Eagles’ football team celebrated a very special victory. Their win against Southeast Raleigh a couple of weeks ago meant that, for the first time in the school’s 55-year history, Enloe had started a football season 8-0.
Side Note: Yes, Enloe did lose to Leesville Road on Monday. Still, though, by Enloe’s standards, 8-1 is incredible.
In comparison, over the past ten seasons, the Eagles have never had a winning season. In fact, they only had one season in which they won the same amount of games they lost—2008. Every other season, they’ve had a LLLLLLLLLosing record, including two seasons in which they lost all of their games2013 and 2015.
In other words, this is kind of a big deal.
It caught the eye of Herald legend Peyton Lawson, who attended Heritage High School when Enloe suffered through their winless season. “I’m confused,” tweeted a flabbergasted Lawson, quoting a HighSchoolOT tweet celebrating Enloe’s 8-0 start.
Speaking of HighSchoolOT, one of its contributors, J. Mike Blake wrote an incredible article documenting the atmosphere at Len Bauer Stadium (Enloe’s stadium). In the feature, Blake speaks on how the atmosphere evolved from a wasteland comparable to a desert in a classic Western movie to one equivalent to a European soccer rivalry game with fans willing to cut their hands off to get in.
It’s clear to see that Enloe football has turned from a must-use punchline into must-watch, Friday night primetime action.
But…how? Well, as you may have noticed, head coach Ken Blocker has had a lot to do with the transformation. Coach Blocker inherited a team with zero morale and confidence after years of losing. He also had come to a school that highly prioritized the arts and academics over athletics. Finally, he had to deal with the fact that it was very hard to attract talent because of Enloe’s reputation as an academics-first school.
Blocker had a serious challenge on his plate.
To change the mindset, he had to be very patient and never give up on his players. He also greatly emphasized academic performance because, as Blocker says, “if I can’t get you to be disciplined inside the classroom, I can’t get you to be disciplined on the field.”
While two players, Christian Rorie and Hamilton Moore, may have stood out as the best performers—both are committed to Division I schools and are top scholars—Rorie believes that this is not merely a phase.
“We have younger guys in the locker room who I know are going to make a change,” proclaimed an optimistic Rorie in a News & Observer interview. “I feel like we are making something that’s going to last.”
For the rest of the student body, it’s quite a beautiful thing. After a long Friday of hard work in an academics-first school, instead of going to a soulless, vapid party for the night, there’s a football team to cheer on with your best friends. For the surrounding community, it’s a team to be proud of.
Heritage principal Scott Lyons—who formerly was principal at Enloe—had nothing but congratulatory words to say when asked about the Eagles’ success. “I’m very proud of them,” said Lyons. He was impressed by how a school that only had mild success once in a while could manage to pull off such a historic season.
It can only get better from here for Enloe. With Blocker at the helm, more success on the gridiron should be expected. Enloe is a powerhouse now, and other schools must take note.