Tonight, the Enid Plainsmen will play the 1,000th football game in school history.

It’s homecoming.

It’s against the Big Blue’s biggest rival — Ponca City.

Crowd estimates could top 7,000.

And the weather forecast calls for a pleasant autumn night at D. Bruce Selby Stadium.

What could be more perfect?

How about an Enid win?

The Big Blue dropped their second straight game last week in a blowout loss to Tulsa Union in the District 6A-3 opener, a setback made more costly with five regular players, including quarterback-safety Austin Box, suffering injuries.

Enid coach Tom Cobble has shuffled the lineup to account for the losses of Box (dislocated elbow), defensive tackle Noni Fakavai (ankle) and wide receiver-safety Colton Chelf (ankle). Those players are not expected to play tonight, but Enid could have the services of running backs Justin Glenn (knee) and Jesse Pitts (ankle).

With Box out for 2 to 4 weeks, Enid fans will get their first extended look at sophomore quarterback Clint Chelf.

Chelf, the younger brother of Colton Chelf, got off to an impressive start in a relief appearance last week against Union. He completed three of six passes and ran for 44 yards on four carries, including a touchdown.

Glenn and Pitts are expected to play, but Cobble is not sure how they will hold up. If they need to be rested, Cobble said Marcus Cotton could see time in the backfield.

Fakavai is expected to be out of action for two weeks with an ankle injury, and Colton Chelf continues to be hobbled by a sprained ankle. Chelf has been one of Enid most versatile players; he plays wide receiver and safety, returns kicks and is the kick holder.

“I sure wouldn’t jeopardize those guys,’’ said Cobble. “If they aren’t good to go, they need to rest and get well.’’

The Plainsmen will try to put aside the distractions of homecoming and the 1,000th game celebrations while aiming for their first district win of the season.

“It’s such a big game because you can’t afford to drop a game like this if you want to make a run to the playoffs,’’ said Cobble. “I don’t think the homecoming and the 1,000th game will affect us because we aren’t going to be very involved in any of that. The big deal for us is that we have to have guys pick up the slack (because of the injuries).

“The 1,000th game deal is more of a fan deal, especially for the fans who have been around and seen a lot of Enid games. To me, that denotes a long tradition of football and playing it pretty well. It’s something to be proud of. But to our current players, I’m not sure how big a deal it is.’’

The Wildcats got off to a rough start, dropping their first three games and not scoring a point in any of them.

“You get this mental picture of guys (playing) with one leg and one arm who can’t hardly play at all,’’ said Cobble. “But after watching them on film, that’s not the case at all. They aren’t a bad football team. Defensively, they are pretty decent. Offensively, they are getting better.

“That’s one of the big dangers of this game. If you take them for granted, you are in for a long night. If you take them lightly, don’t prepare properly, not only will you not win but you don’t deserve to win.’’

Ponca City got its first win last Friday, whipping Del City 24-3 in the league opener.

The Wildcats will be looking for their sixth straight victory over Enid.

“This is a big rivalry,’’ said Ponca City coach Bo Hannaford. “We know this is their homecoming. We know that we have beaten them recently, and they want to win this game.

“And I’m not going to lie, Enid not having Box helps us. You can’t take a kid like that out of your lineup and not be affected. But you hate to see something like that happen to any kid.’’

Enid and Ponca City have one common opponent in Bartlesville. Enid defeated Bartlesville 35-14 in the season opener, while the Wildcats lost 38-0 in Week 2.

“Ponca City is going to come in here thinking they are going to win,’’ said Cobble. “We don’t scare them. We have to play well to win.’’

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