FDA to face toughest test yet in Monroe

Published 3:59 pm Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Fort Dale Eagles face the stiffest challenge of the season thus far in their penultimate region game against the undefeated Monroe Academy Volunteers.

Monroe not only sits comfortably at the head of the Region 2 standings at 8-0 (3-0 in region play), but they’ve beaten each of their eight opponents by comfortable margins.

Fort Dale head football coach James “Speed” Sampley said that there’s no small wonder, given the team’s explosive offensive potential.

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“They have a very good football team,” Sampley said. “Their offense scores lots of points, and they’ve always played really good defense.  Their kicking game is not quite as strong as it’s been in the past and ours has been pretty good lately, so we hope that’s an advantage for us.

“In order to beat Monroe, you have to control the football.  We have to keep the ball away from them, because they’re very explosive on offense.   And if we can do that, we would have a pretty good chance as long as we can tackle. They’re going to put you in some situations where you’ve got to tackle in space, and we’re going to have to be able to tackle them.  As long as we can do that, we can play with them.”

A quality opponent like the Volunteers would prove a solid barometer for the Eagles’ playoff readiness, but Sampley insists that the Eagles have been in playoff mode for three weeks now. 

It’s a good thing, too, he said.  Because the next two weeks could make or break Fort Dale’s postseason, despite only having recorded a single six-point loss on the year.

“Every game for the last three weeks, and for the next two weeks, is basically a playoff game,” Sampley added. “If we don’t win one of the next two games, we’re not in the playoffs.

“There are so many tiebreaker procedures.  One of the things that can happen is that the number of points you’ve beaten or lost to a common opponent by.  We have to win either this week or next week just to make the playoffs, and even if we win both weeks we could still end up in a three-way tie for first place.  And then it comes down to tiebreaker procedure, which will probably put us back in third.

The loss to Pike in a playoff bracket situation hurt us.”

Fortunately for Sampley and the Eagles, he believes that the team is playing the best football of the season, if the past month has been any indication.

“We’re playing better defense, for sure,” he said. “We’re still not quite as consistent on offense as I think we can be, and we work on that every day.  It still comes down to working on improving day-in and day-out.”

The Eagles look to interrupt the Volunteers’ perfect streak on the road at Monroe Academy Friday.