FDA journey for self-improvement continues against Sparta Academy

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A win does not necessary equate a good performance for Fort Dale Academy head football coach James “Speed” Sampley.

Though the FDA Eagles soared to a comfortable 29-14 win on the road over Northside Methodist Friday, Sampley wasn’t exactly pleased with how the Eagles arrived at the win.

“We did not play very well,” Sampley said.  “I guess sometimes when you’re playing an opponent you know you’re better than, you don’t go in real focused, and it happens probably at all levels of football.

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“But we can’t afford to do that, and we certainly can’t afford to do that when we play a region game.  So we’ve got to step up our preparation and get a little more focused so that we’ll play better.”

Fort Dale’s opponent this week is Sparta Academy, a program that the Eagles have historically gotten the better of for several years running.  The win streak for Fort Dale currently sits at eight games.  The last time Fort Dale fell to Sparta was in 1996 in a narrow 7-6 defensive struggle.

This year’s Warriors team sits at 0-5, and the 2017 Sparta Academy defense has coughed up nearly 46 points per game on average.

Despite their apparent weaknesses, Sampley said that the Eagles’ biggest concern continues to be themselves. 

“Sparta’s struggling a little bit, but we have to take care of us,” Sampley said.

“It doesn’t really matter right now who we’re playing.  We’re just not getting better weekly, and that’s what it’s going to take to have a chance in the end to be successful in the playoffs.”

The Eagles’ run game will be a clear focus for this week’s practice.

“We’ve got to stay on blocks better,” Sampley continued. “We’ve got to cut better from the running back position. 

“We have not had a long run this year from the running back position, off the top of my head.  Nickeling and diming people is all well and good, but still every now and then you’ve got to pop one.  And we just haven’t popped one, so we’ve got to work at that.”

The Warriors’ trips-based offense has proven ineffective this season, as the team has managed just at 13 points per game at the halfway point of Sparta Academy’s regular season. 

“But once again, it doesn’t matter unless we do what we’re supposed to,” Sampley said. “So we’ve got to work on getting better week to week and doing our job.  And if we do that, we’ve got a chance.”

The Eagles travel to Sparta Academy Friday.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.