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Eagles to focus on self improvement against Wilcox

Fans of Fort Dale Academy will watch Friday night’s upcoming game from the stands and assume that the Eagles’ opponents are the Wilcox Academy Wildcats.

But James “Speed” Sampley, head coach of the Fort Dale Academy Eagles, thinks that his players’ biggest opponents have been themselves.

“We’ve turned the ball over eight times in the past two games,” Sampley said.

“We have eight actual dropped passes and 12 penalties.  You do that, and you aren’t going to win many games.”

Despite last Friday’s 34-7 loss at the hands of Escambia Academy, the Cougars only managed to pull in 180 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns.

“Two offensive touchdowns is all they had, and the rest of them came off of special teams and defensive touchdowns,” Sampley said.  “Our offense just isn’t clicking very well.”

To that end, the entirety of this week’s practice is spent on eliminating the most costly mistakes.

Offense is the primary area of concern but, after having allowed a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked punt return for a touchdown, special teams is of equal importance for Fort Dale.

But of course, the Eagles have been studying their next opponent just as carefully as their own mistakes.

As far as the Eagles’ 2015 opponents go, the Wilcox Academy Wildcats are as traditional as they come.

“They’re basically an I-team, and they run the ball straight ahead,” Sampley said.

“They run a 4-3 defense, and they’re the same as we are, as far as the record.  We’ve both won one and lost two. They don’t have the kind of foot speed as the past two teams we’ve played, so hopefully we’ll get on track and quit shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Though the Wildcats, and next week’s opponent, Sparta Academy, are non-region opponents, Sampley has never been the type of coach to distinguish between the two.  The next pair of games are just as important as the previous one.

“It puts us behind the eight ball when trying to make the playoffs, but we’ve got to right the ship,” Sampley said.

“We’ve got to clean up our own act.  We’ve got to right the ship and stop making so many self-afflicted problems for ourselves.  If we can do that, we can be pretty decent.  But that’s what it’s going to take.”