No. 6 FDA focused on fundamentals

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

For No. 6 Fort Dale Academy, winning its season opener against Escambia Academy isn’t the most important thing.

It’s the only thing, and not just because the first game is pivotal to setting the pace for the rest of the season.

“I think it’s real important, considering it’s a region game,” said head coach James “Speed” Sampley.

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That singular, focused mindset is what Sampley hopes will propel his team into postseason play, but he hasn’t eschewed preparing for the regular season for long-term goals.

Last week’s preseason skirmish against Lee-Scott Academy might’ve been a bitter pill for some of his players to swallow, but it afforded an opportunity for Sampley to assess the strengths and weaknesses of his squad, and make adjustments accordingly.

“The line decided to block a little better, and that helped a lot, but defensively we didn’t tackle very well,” Sampley said. “We had a lot of folks around the ball, and we’ve got to improve that. Our special teams were not very good, but that’s why you play preseason games — to figure out what you’ve got to do to fix it.”

Developing those skills has been a primary concern for this week’s practices, and Friday night’s opponent will provide ample opportunity to test them.

According to Sampley, Escambia Academy is a team that has improved significantly in a short year’s time, and polishing the fundamentals are key to victory for this Friday night and beyond.

“They’re not real complicated on offense, so we’ve got to tackle them,” Sampley said.

“They’re going to use a multitude of backs, and we’re going to have to get guys on the ground. And offensively, for us it’ll be about sustaining blocks and effort.”

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Fort Dale.