Eagles fight to keep playoff hopes alive

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The next two weeks are as important as any in recent memory for the Fort Dale Academy Eagles.

In order to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Eagles must win both of their upcoming games with Morgan and Pike Liberal Arts, following a devastating loss to rival Monroe Academy last Friday.

But even that loss bore fruit for the Eagles, as Fort Dale head coach James “Speed” Sampley dug deep in his playbook for a clever set of plays that proved effective even against Monroe’s intimidating front line.

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“We played where the tailback was actually throwing the ball in the pistol.  We had five different people throwing the football, but not five different quarterbacks,” Sampley said.

“It was just a plan we were trying to use because we had a situation where Monroe had some good linemen and we were taking the guy that was in the quarterback position and putting him in motion to make him a receiver.  The guy who was in the tailback position was actually seven yards deep when the ball is snapped, making it more difficult to get to him.”

The plan worked for three of four quarters, but the Volunteers rallied in the fourth quarter for three consecutive, unanswered scores.

“We caught them off balance a good bit, and of course defensively we did some stuff differently.  But they have a good football team and they rallied, and we just ran out of gas,” Sampley said.

This week’s challenge comes in the form of the Morgan Academy Senators, a regional opponent who has seen its share of struggles in 2014.

The Senators are still searching for their first win on the season, but Sampley said that’s no reason to underestimate them.

“Morgan’s had a really tough schedule—everybody that they play is pretty stinkin’ good,” Sampley added.

“They’re better now than when the year started, and they’ve adjusted to where they’re mostly in the shotgun throwing it.  Their quarterback is a pretty good player, and we’ll have to be able to play defense, obviously, and the key to all of that is playing good offense and keeping the ball away from them.”

Sampley added that the key to winning Friday, and ultimately making the playoffs, is to do what Morgan Academy and other good teams do—get better as the season goes on.

“We’ve got to get a little bit better every week,” Sampley said.

“That’s what we’ve been striving to do.  And blocking and tackling have got to get a little bit better each time, and that’s the key to this whole thing.”