Fort Dale ready for Edgewood challenge

Published 4:08 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fort Dale Academy’s final regular season opponent is a team that barely remembers what losing feels like.

The Edgewood Academy Wildcats (9-0) are notorious for several things, most notably a 67-game winning streak dating back to Oct. 28, 2010.  (The team’s oldest players were only 7th graders at the time.)

This year’s team hasn’t bucked tradition in the slightest, mounting a remarkable 49.8-point average win margin across nine games.

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When scoring 40 points or more (the team averages 58 points per game), the Wildcats are 101-0 in the past 10 years.

But for James “Speed” Sampley, head coach of the Fort Dale Academy Eagles, it’s only the present that concerns him.

“They’ve got great athletes.  Their quarterback was, from what I understand, the No. 1-ranked quarterback in Canada last year,” Sampley said.

Sampley is referring to Nathan Rourke, the Canadian import who has contributed a great deal to the Wildcats’ stellar 2015 offensive production.

But the Wildcats also have junior receiver Jackson Tate, sophomore linebacker Khalid Jones and senior 6-foot-6 defensive end Kelvin Lucky, all of whom are receiving attention from SEC schools.

But for Sampley, that’s not all that makes them a threat.

“But they’re well coached,” Sampley said.

“(Edgewood head football coach) Bobby (Carr) does a really good job, and the staff does a good job.  We’ve just got to prepare to play well and play well in all three phases of the game—offense, defense and special teams.”

Though the past several years have belonged to Edgewood, the 19-year rivalry between the two teams is a dead-even race, with Edgewood holding a narrow 10-9 lead over Fort Dale.

Sampley said that the importance of facing a challenging, championship-caliber team couldn’t be overstated.

“We’ve been requesting to play Edgewood and they’ve been requesting to play us for the whole time,” Sampley said.

“We actually ask to put each other on the schedule.  Both of us feel like playing good opponents will help you get better.”

Having clinched a playoff berth with last week’s victory over Pike Liberal Arts, the thought of taking a week off just before the postseason is a foreign concept for Sampley.

“We will play to win,” Sampley said.

“That’s the only way to do it.”

The Eagles aim to snap the 67-game win streak at home Friday night.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.