Fort Dale Academy offense snapping on all cylinders

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2005

Two weeks ago, Fort Dale Academy coach James "Speed" Sampley was on the fence regarding the Eagles' new Gulf Coast offense.

Sampley was seriously considering scrapping the new offense and return to the power I-formation that he had run since he came to Fort Dale.

Then on a rainy afternoon, he decided to pull his players indoors to work on some basic fundamentals as the rain came pouring down. He pulled his quarterbacks and the centers to the side and explained the nuances of the direct snap to the man in motion, which is a key to the new offense that is a cross breed of the single wing and the veer offense.

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"I would talk about it and talk about it, but then I showed them what I was talking about," Sampley said. "The watched me and then it was like a light went on. It just snapped in their head what I was talking about , and they got the snap down right then."

The key to this offense is for the center to snap the ball to the man running in motion whether he may be a receiver, running back or quarterback from the shotgun formation.

"We've pretty much perfected that snap now," Sampley said.

Whom the Eagles' center will be remains the question. From Sampley's standpoint, he said that Jeremy Huckaba and Clay Milton are "neck and neck."

But Sampley said he won't make the decision as to who will get the start for next week's season opener at Sparta Academy. He's leaving that up to his offensive line coach Clint Lowery.

"I'm letting him make that call," Sampley said. "I may have some input, but I'm leaving that decision up to him."

While Sampley feels confident either center getting the snap down, he estimates that quarterback Casey Weston will take more snaps under center than out of the shotgun.

"I think we'll be under center 60 percent of the time," Sampley said. "We just look better under center ."

Since Weston will also take on the charge of being the lead blocker in some instances with the new Eagle offense, Sampley has been working to build some depth at quarterback. Brady Newton will back up Weston and sophomore Adam Vickery has been moved into be the Eagles' third-string quarterback.

Vickery worked as the Eagles' No. 2 quarterback during Fort Dale's preseason game with Pike Liberal Arts.

"We wanted to get him some live game experience to see what he could do," Sampley explained.

"He has had to adjust to being quarterback, so what a better way than in a live situation."

While the Eagles have been concentrating on getting a new offense installed, special teams work has taken a back seat. Sampley said that the remainder of the week was spent working on special teams trying to find the right personnel.

John Lewis Golson and Tim James have been sharing punting duties. Roy Nam and Golson have taken on the place kicking chores, while Taylor Hawsey and Nam have battled for the kick-off specialist spot.

"It's been hard to kick a wet ball, so that's what we'll work on over the next week," he said.