FDA faces second do-or-die game with Pike Lib
This upcoming Friday should prove a case of déjà vu for the Fort Dale Academy Eagles.
Once again, the Eagles find themselves a game away from a seat at the playoffs table in the final region game of the year.
And once again, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots stand in the way of postseason play.
Last year, the Patriots emerged victorious 43-22, dashing the Eagles’ playoff hopes in the process and earning the first win over FDA since 2008.
Coach James “Speed” Sampley, head football coach of the Fort Dale Academy Eagles and not one to mince words, put the situation in simplest terms.
“If we win this game, we go to the playoffs. If we don’t, we don’t,” Sampley said.
“The only difference was that if Pike won last year, they would go. And if they win this year, they’re still not going. If Pike beats us, Morgan goes to the playoffs.”
Though the Patriots aren’t battling for playoff contention this season, that doesn’t mean Sampley isn’t expecting a fight.
Though the Patriots sit dead even at 4-4, the four losses have proven far more costly than the four wins. All four of the Patriots’ defeats have come at the hands of region opponents.
While Sampley believes the two teams are comparable in terms of size and athleticism, the Eagles are riding a small wave of momentum coming off the heels of last week’s thrilling victory over the Morgan Academy Senators.
Though rife with controversial calls, the game was just as vital for the Eagles make a playoff bid.
“You don’t want to fuss about officials,” Sampley said. “Officials make calls and we’re guilty. We make penalties, and so does the other team. I would have liked to see officials control the game better.
“We had to win last week, too. Everything has been the playoffs for a while for us.”
The stakes are high, though Sampley added that the path to the playoffs is relatively straightforward.
“We’ve got to play well—we can’t turn the ball over. We’ve got to play good defense. And we’ve got to maximize all opportunities that we get,” Sampley said.
“If we do that, then hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
The Eagles will host the Patriots Friday, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.