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FDA faces the unknown in Northside Methodist

It’s back-to-back region battles for Fort Dale Academy this week as the Eagles host the visiting Northside Methodist Academy Knights.

Although unlike last week’s storied history with the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots, Fort Dale’s history with Northside Methodist is nonexistent.

Also, unlike last week’s matchup with the Patriots, FDA head football coach James “Speed” Sampley aims to secure a region win.

Though the Knights are a relative unknown, Sampley and his coaching staff have done what they can to help familiarize the Eagles with an unfamiliar opponent.

“We’ve got film on them; it’s just like playing anybody else,” Sampley said. “We just haven’t seen their actual personnel in person.  But they’re a region game, and they’re huge for us.  We’ve got to be able to make some plays, we have to play hard and we have to be able to tackle on defense.”

The Dothan-based Northside Methodist Academy Knights sit at 3-1 this season, which includes a 24-10 loss to Glenwood School and a convincing 35-6 win over their sole regional opponent thus far, Hooper Academy.

The Knights’ football program enters only its third year, which began in 2014 with an unremarkable 2-8 season.

2015 saw a complete turnaround for the program as the Knights scored 30.2 points per game and went 7-3 to earn a No. 3 seed spot in Class AA Region 2 behind Edgewood Academy and Springwood.

This year’s team, which currently averages 27.8 points per game, is aiming to duplicate that success.

“They’re pretty good,” Sampley said.   “They’ve got a good number of kids, and they run what they run well.”

The Eagles are looking to earn their stripes and erase a disappointing loss to rival Pike Lib Friday, and Sampley’s plan for course correction is remarkably simple.

“We win this week.”

The Eagles will host the Knights Friday, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.