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FDA faces off against Bessemer

Fort Dale’s win over rival Morgan Academy last Friday moved the Eagles one step closer to the state championship game, and Fort Dale will now face off against the Bessemer Academy Rebels.

The Rebels have been one of the premier teams in the AISA over the last several years.

In addition to winning last year’s state championship, they also won titles in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

However, Fort Dale head coach James Sampley said the Rebels have had an identity crisis this season.

“They’ve got a pretty good team, but they’ve struggled to find their identity before settling on the spread,” he said.

One of the Rebels’ most dangerous players is wide receiver Harris Gaston.

“You can’t cover him with one guy,” Sampley said. “They’ve got another wide receiver that’s about 6-4, and they can just throw it up and let him go get it. They’re dangerous on offense.”

Quarterback Garrett Pinciotti threw for 2,676 yards last season, and he could play at the next level.

“If you let him stand back there all day, he’ll kill you,” Sampley said. “He’s also one of their most effective runners, so you can’t turn him loose.”

The Eagles will have to put pressure on Pinciotti to have success against Bessemer.

“We’re going to try to mix up some of the stuff we do on defense,” Sampley said.

On offense, Fort Dale will also have to deal with Gaston, who has committed to Auburn at linebacker.

The offensive keys for the Eagles will be ball control and scoring in the red zone.

“We need to keep it away from them,” Sampley said. “We can’t have three-and-outs.”

“The most important thing is moving the football.”

After hosting Morgan, the Eagles will be traveling this week.

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