FDA opens postseason with familiar foe

Published 3:47 pm Monday, October 31, 2011

Fort Dale Academy and Bessemer Academy certainly aren’t strangers.

The two teams have faced off six times in the last seven years, with four of those games coming in the postseason.

“We have some history with them,” Fort Dale head coach James “Speed” Sampley said. “We’ve faced each other a lot in recent years and we’re pretty familiar with each other. There won’t be a lot of surprises.”

The Eagles (4-6) are hoping that familiarity yields a win Friday night when they travel to Bessemer to take on the third-ranked Rebels (9-1) in the first round of the Alabama Independent School Association playoffs.

Fort Dale has won two of the last three meetings with the Rebels, including a 38-7 semifinal win last season.

“We know that they have a good team,” Sampley said. “They’ll be one of the best teams we’ll see all season, but if we come out and play hard for four quarters like we did (against Edgewood), we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. That’s what it’s all about at this point in the season. You’re playing to keep playing.”

Fort Dale enters Friday night’s contest coming off a 32-10 loss to No. 1 Edgewood. It was the third consecutive loss for the defending Class AAA state champions, and while the final result left something to be desired, Sampley said there was plenty to build off heading into the opening round of the playoffs.

“Obviously you would like to go into the playoffs with the momentum of a win, but (against Edgewood) we played harder than we had all season, in my opinion, and that’s something we can build on. We’ve got to a better job of blocking and tackling to have any success against (Bessemer), but I liked the effort (against Edgewood) and we’re going to need more of that (Friday night).”

The Rebels will enter Friday’s game riding the momentum of three straight wins in which they outscored their opponents 118-31.

Kickoff for Friday’s contest is set for 7 p.m.