Eagles#039; center key to new offense

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

The quarterback is always thought of being the key component to a functional offense.

But that may not be the case with Fort Dale Acadmey's new spread offense.

Rarely will Eagles quarterback Casey Weston operate under center this season, according to his coach James Sampley. And Weston may not always be the one to take the snap. In some cases, a halfback, tailback or wide receiver could take a direct snap.

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"Our center snap is going to have to be consistently right there," Sampley said of Clay Milton and Jeremy Huckaba, who are battling for the starting center spot. "None of thid will work if the snap is not there, but everyone is learning from scratch right now."

The Eagles had an opportunity to showcase their new offense Friday night in a spring jamboree at Macon-East Montgomery Academy. The Eagles faced the Knights for one half and then scrimmaged against Pike Liberal Arts for another half.

Results from the scrimmage were not available by presstime Friday night.

While the Eagles have spent the last three weeks learning Sample's new offense, Weston said that his teammates have picked up on the offense with little trouble.

"It's actually easier than it looks," the sophomore quarterback said. "By spreading it out like we are, I can see how the defense reacts and then attack from there.

"And it's more fun than running the ball all the time."

After leading Fort Dale's junior varsity to an undefeated season last year as a freshman, Weston looks to have earned the starting varsity job.

"(Coach Sampley) seems to have the confidence in me to get the job done, and that makes me feel good," Weston said.

Weston's official debut will be Aug. 26 for the Eagles regular season opener at Sparta Academy in Evergreen.

So far the only knock on Weston during the spring has been his mechanics, Sampley said. Weston also is a pitcher for in summer youth-league baseball so when he's not under center as quarterback for the Eagles, he's on the mound pitching for his youth league team.

"The two deliveries are totally different, so his mechanics at quarterback are all screwed up right now," Sampley said. "But I'm not worried about it, because we'll get (his mechanics) fixed by the first game of the season."

Between summer workouts, Weston will be participating in summer passing camps throughout the state.

Tim James, who consistently rushed for more than 100 yards in the last seven games of the season for Fort Dale, will get as touches this season as he did as a tailback last year.

Sampley said that James will be the starting halfback in his modified single-wing spread offense.

"We have to get the ball in his hands to be successful," Sampley said. "We've got to make sure he gets the ball 20 to 25 times a game."

The question will be what he does with the ball in this new offense. James could easily rush the ball or throw the ball from his halfback position.

"If people stack up the line trying to stop the run, then you may see him throw the ball from that halfback position," Sampley said.

Now that spring practice is over, that doesn't mean the Eagles will take the summer off.

Players will report for summer workouts.

"After three weeks of practice, our guys have run out of gas near the end of practice," Sampley said. "We're not in football shape right now, but we'll get better."