Fort Dale counting
By Kevin Taylor
When Fort Dale Academy coach James “Speed” Sampley opened fall drills he talked of skewing away from his typical grind'em out, rush-heavy offense for their self-proclaimed Gulf Coast offense.
By spreading the field, it would allow for the Eagles to be more multiple and keep their opponents guessing.
Sampley will keep his first-round playoff opponent, Edgewood, from guessing this week. Fort Dale's coach said that the Eagles' best chance to win Friday night will be to go back to Fort Dale's famed rushing attack.
“I said at the first of the year that we wouldn't be just a 3-yards and a cloud of dust team, but that's what we've got to be this Friday in order to have a chance,” Sampley said.
The Eagles (6-4) face an Edgewood team that has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 332-192.
“We can't afford to get into a scoring match with them,” Sampley said. “We've got to keep the ball on offense for as long as we can to keep it away from their defense.”
Edgewood (9-1), which is ranked No. 4 in the Alabama Independent School Association poll, is led by its all-state quarterback Phillip Moore. The 6-foot-3 senior has thrown for 2,676 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Wildcat quarterback doesn't make many mistakes, either. He has completed 71 percent of his passes and has thrown just four interceptions in 249 attempts this season.
“It's hard to get a good rush on him because he lines up in the shotgun all the time, and then he takes a five-step drop. He might as well be in punt formation,” Sampley said of Moore.
Moore's favorite receivers from the spread formation is Chezz McCann, Justin Reevs and Chad Mansmann. The three wideouts have accounted for 113 of Moore's 186 completions. McCann is the Wildcats' leading receiver with 40 catches for 711 yards and six touchdowns. Reevs has caught two less than McCann for 618 yards and six scores.
Fort Dale got an early test against an offense similar to Edgewood last week when it traveled to face Patrician. The Eagles battled back and forth with Patrician in the first half, but three crucial turnovers in the second half turned into three quick touchdowns and a 43-21 defeat.
“We can't shoot ourselves in the foot at all Friday night,” Sampley said. “If we do our part, we'll have a chance to win the game.”