Fort Dale defense gearing up for #039;speedy#039; Leopard backs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

For the second time in three weeks, Fort Dale Academy's best defense may be its offense when it faces undefeated Mobile Christian Friday night in Greenville.

The Eagles faced one of the best running back in the Alabama Independent School Association in Bessemer Academy's Walter Arrington and lost 20-0.

This time around, Fort Dale will be charged with the task of trying to slow three speedy backs — Alfred Hawthorne, Reginald Toney and Curt Ford.

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"Two of the three backs didn't play football last year, but they both ran track. And they could fly," Eagles coach James "Speed" Sampley said. "We need to keep the ball out of their hands, and the best way we can do that is by keeping their defense on the field."

Mobile Christian (2-0) obviously didn't show any ill effects from a two-week layoff from games being postponed because of Hurricane Katrina. The Leopards topped Monore Academy 38-13.

"I really hope our best defense will be our 11 guys on defense," Sampley said. "I know we better tackle well or we'll be in trouble. A lot of their touchdowns came on long runs, and we can't afford to give up the big play."

Fort Dale picked up its first area victory of the season by holding off a late charge by Hooper in Hope Hull on Friday.

Senior running back Tim James rushed for 171 of the Eagles' 271 total rushing yards on 22 carries with three first-half touchdowns. James scored on runs of 24, 3 and 1 yards.

"We just pounded it at them by running from the spread formation," Sampley said. "Then we tried to throw it a bit in the second half."

Moving away from a sound running game in the first half by opting more for the pass came dangerously close to blowing up in Sampley's face.

"We almost went to the pass too much there in the second half," he said. "Looking back we should have taken the first team and just scored on our first possession in the second half and then let the young kids play."

Just because Fort Dale has run more out of the spread than throw the ball, doesn't mean Sampley has given up on his new self-proclaimed Gulf Coast offense.

"We want to throw the ball when we can," he said. "It just makes it easier to run the ball when we spread defenses out like we do."