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Spring training begins

Fort Dale Academy's Head Football Coach James "Speed" Sampley has a different goal during spring training.

While some high school football coaches look to establish starters and work on fundamentals, Sampley just wants his players to have fun.

"I think spring training is more about fun," Sampley said. "We can come out here and do blocking and tackling drills all day long, but nobody will have fun. It's not like we're getting ready for the season. They need to come out here and scrimmage a little bit and have a good time."

Fort Dale began its spring training last Monday with 46 players despite unfavorable weather conditions. The soaking rains may not have prevented the Eagles from beginning spring training as scheduled, but Sampley said this week has been more productive.

"The kids are doing okay," Sampley said. "It's just been so nasty, up until this week. Last week it was so bad we could hardly stand up. They've got the gist of what we're trying to do. We're trying to get some shotgun stuff in so we'll be a little more diversified on offense and spread the field out. It's awful hard to do that when it's wet and nasty and you're falling down every day, but other day that we're working pretty good."

Sampley said running plays out of the shotgun and spreading the offense out will be the biggest difference Fort Dale fans will notice next year.

"I'm not sure that we'll throw the ball as much as most people would that line up in a shotgun," Sampley said. "We're not going to lineup in the shotgun all the time, but we're going to spread it out and be able to run the ball better and we hop to throw it 15 to 20 times a game."

The Alabama Independent School Association allows its member schools to practice 15 days during the spring and doesn't have set dates the practices must be held. Sampley said he will only practice for 10 days and chose the last week of February and the first week of March because he believes he gets more out of his players.

"It's just that the last two weeks of school we don't get much concentration out of the kids," Sampley said. "They're thinking about going on summer break."

The Eagles will play a Blue/White game Friday at 5 p.m. at FDA's stadium. Kickoff could be rescheduled to 4 p.m. if weather conditions threaten.