Eagles try to better seeding in postseason Friday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Last week, Fort Dale Academy's football team clinched a spot in the Alabama Independent School Association's Class AAA playoffs with a 30n7 win over Mobile Academy.

Friday night, the Eagles (6n2, 4n2) will compete in their final regional contest as they host Monroe Academy and attempt to better their seeding in the postseason.

This year's game is no different than in years past when the two rivals have squared off. The stakes are always high.

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"It's a big game every year," FDA Head Coach James "Speed" Sampley said. "We play each other every year, in every sport and all our kids know their kids and vice versa. It's just one of those old fashion Southern rivals. Every year when we play them, it's always late in the season and there's always some playoff situation on the line. It's usually a big game and sometimes we get to play each other twice."

During the past two seasons, the Eagles and Volunteers (6n2, 4n2) have met twice. Two years ago FDA knocked Monroe out of the semifinals and advanced to the state championship game. Last year, the Volunteers were came away victor, knocking the Eagles out of the semifinals and advanced to the championship game.

"It's definitely the biggest game to date for us," Monroe Head Coach Don Smith said. "It's a big rivalry because we play each other in everything and the kids know each other. You wait on this game every year so you'll have the braggin' rights. With the playoffs on the line, it's very important that you go in and play your best, giving yourself an opportunity of winning in the first round. Fort Dale is big, strong and physical. They always play us a very good game and we're looking for a tough battle this Friday night in Greenville."

The winner of this week's game will determine the third and fourth spots in the south region. The winner will claim third in the region and face Morgan Academy, which has already clinched second in the region. Region champ Faith Academy will face the loser, or fourth seed. Sampley said if his team can play as well as it did last week, a win could be in the cards.

"We played about as a good as we could play last week," Sampley said. "I don't know if we could play any better. Mobile hasn't won a lot of games, but they've got pretty good talent, and we held them to 80 yards of total offense. They're a pretty good passing team, but they only had 19 yards passing."

Sampley said Monroe has a much better team than Mobile, and it will be a tough task for his defense to shut the Volunteers' offense down.

"They've got a real good football team," Sampley said. "They've got a bunch of kids back and have a strong running game. Their quarterback, Taylor Dobson, throws the ball awfully well. They also have a real good tailback, Monroe Williams, who carries the ball a good many times, and we've got to limit the number of big plays that he has. He's going to have some, he's one of those players that you can't take everything away from."

Sampley said Monroe's defense isn't too shabby itself.

"Defensively, they get after you," Sampley said. "They play two or three types of defenses. It's going to be one of those games that will be fun to watch."

Smith believes that Fort Dale's offense is potent as well and also believes his defense will have a big task slowing it down. He said the Eagles could hurt the Volunteers either on the ground or through the air.

"Their quarterback, Brett Paulk, running back, Digger Kimbro, and their big offensive line is the biggest hurdle we have to climb," Smith said. "It's going to be a problem for us."

Both Sampley and Smith believe whichever team controls the clock will come out on top.

The game also will be Fort Dale's last regular season home game of the season and will serve as senior night. Every senior on the Eagles' roster will be recognized at 7 p.m., prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.