FDA looking to make it three in a row

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Fort Dale Academy Eagles reenter region play after a two-week hiatus against a struggling Hooper Academy Colts team.

The Colts, who are winless this season, have been saddled by a poor red zone offense that often struggles to convert long drives into actual points.

The team has been outscored by opponents 150-24 during its first five games, including two shutouts.

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But James “Speed” Sampley, Fort Dale’s head football coach, insists that scores often fail to tell the entire story.

“They’ve moved the ball against pretty much everybody they’ve played on film, but they shoot themselves in the foot a lot like we’ve done throughout the year on offense,” Sampley said.

“They play defense pretty well, and they’ve got big, young players and a  new coach that’s doing a good job.  They just haven’t had a lot of things go their way so far.”

His first message to the Eagles at Monday’s practice was to ignore their 0-5 status.

“They better be ready to play,” Sampley said. “It’s a region game and, traditionally, we just have not played very well against Hooper for whatever reason.”

Despite the slow start to the season, the Eagles are beginning to find their stride in a pair of back-to-back confidence-boosting performances against Wilcox and Sparta.

The Eagles have also seen a great deal of improvement on offense with a more balanced approach through the air and on the ground.

Though Sampley said that he won’t take any focus away from the ground game, he wouldn’t shy away from throwing the ball if the opportunity presents itself, either.

“Of course, I still think you win football games by running the football,” Sampley said.

“But if you can throw it and spread people out enough to make it where you can run.”

Maurlan Dickerson, one of the premier runners on the Eagles’ team, is also set to return Friday against Hooper after he suffered a pulled hamstring in the final play of the game against Wilcox Academy two weeks ago.

After keeping him sidelined for a week, Sampley said that a positive Monday practice suggested that he’s nearly back to 100 percent.

But offense alone won’t secure the win.  A diligent and prepared defense will be the key to clinching Fort Dale’s first region win.

“They run the option with a pitch man,” Sampley said. “We’ll have to play option responsibility like we’re supposed to, and we’ll have to play with some intensity. We’ve got to make sure that everybody knows what their job is.”

The Eagles travel to Hooper for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Colts Friday night.