FDA hopes to turn confidence into momentum

Published 5:02 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last Friday’s win against an undefeated (at the time) Sparta Academy was an oasis in an otherwise barren desert for the Fort Dale Academy Eagles.

Though it wasn’t a region game, the win gave the Eagles something just as precious—confidence.

“We needed a win, for sure.  But we played well and we blocked a little better and tackled a little better, so we’re making progress and that’s what we want to do,” said Fort Dale Academy head coach James “Speed” Sampley.

“We didn’t turn the ball over, for one thing.  And we played hard—of course, we played hard in some games we lost.  Sometimes, you just need a little break here and there, and I think we got one.  We got the opening kickoff and drove down and scored, and then they fumbled the kickoff and we got it back and scored again, and that gave us a lot of momentum.”

That momentum is something that Sampley hopes to turn into fuel for Friday’s game with the Hooper Academy Colts, the Eagles’ first regional opponent in three weeks.

But there will be no shortage of regional opponents in the month of October for Fort Dale, as the next four games will all factor heavily into the playoff picture.

And though Fort Dale is still searching for its first region win of the season, aspirations for postseason play haven’t blinded Sampley from his one-week-at-a-time mentality.

And as for the Colts, a team still on the hunt for its very first win, Sampley understands their situation all too well.

“They’ve struggled.  They’ve got a bunch of young kids and they’re trying to get better.  They’re a lot like us. They’ve graduated a bunch, and they’re trying to fill in the holes,” Sampley said.

“But we expect a fight every night.  We’re not going to look past anybody.  We’re going to do our best to work at what we can do to get better with us and we’re not going to worry about what those other folks do.”

To that end, a heavy emphasis has been placed on the passing game at this week’s practices, which Sampley admits is something his team hasn’t done much of lately.

Blocking and tackling remain the cornerstones of every single practice, but he hopes that the added does of confidence will give his team the push they need heading into the playoffs.

“We’ve got a ways to go on that, but we’re working on it daily,” Sampley said.

“I think they feel a lot more confident now.  But that’s all relevant, as you’ve still got to play.  So we’ll see.”

The Eagles aim for their first region win against Hooper at home Friday beginning at 7 p.m.