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FDA, Glenwood to square off in round 1

It’s been four years since the Fort Dale Academy Eagles last saw the second round of the AISA state playoffs.

But on the heels of their best regular season in recent memory, the Eagles are looking to do precisely that Friday with a win at the Swamp over the Gators of Glenwood School.

History is on Fort Dale’s side in meetings between the two schools, as the Eagles narrowly prevailed 41-38 in the pair’s last playoff dance in 2012.

But the Eagles also came out on top in the four meetings before that, though three of those four contests were decided by three points or less.

The incredibly competitive AISA Class AAA scene all but guarantees that this year’s meeting could prove just as close.

Statistically, the Eagles (8-2) and the Gators (7-3) are neck and neck in several regards.  Both teams average nearly 30 points per game, though Fort Dale’s defense holds a 3-point advantage over the Gators in terms of points allowed (20 per game for Fort Dale, 23.6 for Glenwood).

The Gators, the No. 2 seed of Region 1, sit only behind the undefeated Bessemer Academy Rebels in an otherwise competitive landscape.

But for FDA head football coach James “Speed” Sampley, stats mean little compared to the importance of doing the little things right on the field.

“We’ve got to play well—we can’t turn the ball over,” Sampley said.

“We’ve got to play good defense.  And we’ve got to maximize all opportunities that we get.

“If we do that, then hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

The Eagles travel to Glenwood Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.