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Fort Dale hosts rival Morgan

This Friday night, the Fort Dale Eagles face off against a familiar opponent — Morgan Academy.

The two schools have a healthy rivalry and face off in every sport from volleyball to baseball, but none of those matchups will have the intensity of a fall Friday night playoff game.

In fact, this will be the second time the two schools have seen each other this season.

The Eagles and the Senators met in a pre-season game which Morgan won 14-9, but Fort Dale head coach Speed Sampley said that doesn’t have much impact on this matchup.

“It was a jamboree, which is a totally different situation,” he said. “We know they’ll be a well-coached team. Coach Gartman and his staff do a great job.”

Sampley said he expects a slower pace to Friday night’s game.

“They like to play slow and keep the ball away from you,” he said. “When you do have the ball, you’d better capitalize on it.”

“They also kick well and keep the ball away from you,” Sampley continued. “That’s the kind of team that worries me.”

The Eagles are coming off a 250-yard passing performance against Shelby Academy, which is by far their best performance of the season.

“I don’t imagine we’ll throw for that much this Friday,” Sampley said. “We would like to keep throwing it a little more because that makes it easier on us.”

Despite the strong showing by the passing game, Sampley said the team is still devoted to the run.

“This time of year, the conditions start getting nasty and the field gets torn up, and running is what wins it,” he said. “We’re a running team first.”

The Eagles were out of school Monday, but still had an early-morning practice, which is unusual for this time of year.

“I told them that all I want to do is make sure we’re practicing next week,” Sampley said.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night.