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Eagles open spring with refresher of fundamentals

A day after Super Bowl XL, you can hear the pads popping in Greenville.

While college and professional football season may be over, high school football is not.

Fort Dale Academy opened its first day of spring drills on Monday with a two-hour refresher course of the basics, according to head coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley, who will be entering his eighth season as the Eagles coach.

&#8220We've got some young kids out here that need to get some work in this spring,” Sampley said.

While Fort Dale has been known as a physical football team, the contact will be limited during spring drills, Sampley said.

&#8220We are having spring before any of the spring sports, and most of these guys play baseball, tennis or run track in the spring,” he said. &#8220So we want to be careful that no one gets hurt.”

And Sampley can afford to limit the live contact this spring since he has a good nucleus of returning starters. The Eagle defense will be the most experienced side of the ball since it has nine returning starters.

So Sampley will be looking to build some much-needed depth at some key positions.

Sampley said that he wants to work on developing depth along the offensive and defensive lines, at wide receiver and quarterback.

And the battle for the starting tailback position has begun. The Eagles lose 1,400-yard rusher Tim James to graduation, but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of backs in the running for the starting job.

Barry Boan, Peter McGowin, Blake Mullins and Micah Jones all are in the running for the starting job.

&#8220We've got good skill people, and we might have to move some of those (running backs) to wide receiver,” Sampley said.

If there is one notable change for the Eagles this spring it would be that Fort Dale's self-proclaimed Gulf Coast offense has been scrapped. In fact the Gulf Coast offense was scrapped by Week 5 of the season last year, and it will remain off the play list this season.

But that doesn't mean that the Eagles won't look to throw the ball next season, Sampley said.

&#8220We're going to run it more than we throw it,” Sampley said. &#8220But I think we'll still try to throw it about 15 to 18 times in a game.”

Returning to handle the quarterback duties will be Casey Weston, who started last season as a sophomore.

The Eagles will practice through Thursday this week and Monday through Thursday next week with an intrasquad Blue and White game scheduled for next Thursday for the varsity and junior high squads.