FDA faces must-win homecoming game

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It’s homecoming week at Fort Dale Academy, but it’s also playoff week.

Or not.  Despite a 7-2 overall record, the Eagles’ playoff hopes could be dashed if Fort Dale falls to this week’s opponent, the Hooper Academy Colts.

Fort Dale Academy head football coach James Speed Sampley said that homecoming is the most perilous time of year, because the distractions they bring can often turn wins into losses.

“My biggest concern is that it’s homecoming at Fort Dale,” Sampley said.

“Homecoming at Fort Dale is a wild week, and generally speaking, we don’t play very well because of a lack of focus.”

The Eagles also taking steps to ensure that the specter of last week’s loss to Monroe Academy—namely, three turnovers that all occurred in or near the red zone—doesn’t continue to haunt them Friday.

In a game featuring 87 total points scored and zero punts, turnovers were an even more make-or-break deal than usual.

“They never really stopped us; we had three turnovers,” Sampley said. “You can’t turn the ball over and beat a great team. 

“We just have to do what we’re supposed to do—take care of the football, tackle, cover kicks and all of the things you’re supposed to do when you play football.”

As for the Colts, the team’s region troubles betray a team that has otherwise played a solid year of football in Sampley’s estimation.

The Colts’ focus on passing concerns him further, he added, because pass-based teams draw out games even longer.

“I think they threw the ball more than 40 times last week, so we’ve got to play good pass defense, get a pass rush and then we’re going to have to tackle well in space,” he said.

A potential three-way tie could leave the Eagles out of the playoff picture in the event that they fall to Hooper and Morgan defeats Pike Liberal Arts.

But Sampley said that the simplest way to avoid the muddy playoff picture is to win.

“If we win, we’re in,” he said. “And then we’re either going to be second, third or fourth, depending on how all the rest of that stuff falls out in the tiebreaker.

“If Pike wins, they’ll be second no matter what happens.  We’ll just have to see how it all turns out.”